Monday, March 30, 2009

Joe the Builder

Today is my Lil Joe's 2nd birthday. Milestones like this are bittersweet for me. Its wonderful to get together with our families and celebrate his life and all that... but we're always reminded of all that he is not doing that he "should" be.
The theme was Bob the Builder. I'd found some cute goodie bags for the boys at the Dollar Spot at Target a few months ago. I'm glad we do family only parties because I only have to do 4 bags for our two boys and our two nephews. It'd get pretty expensive if we had all our friends' kids to buy for too!
My friend came over and helped me to make cupcakes yesterday. I copy & pasted some Bob the Builder images from the internet and printed them out to decorate the cupcakes. I wanted to keep things pretty simple so I made a big pot of chili. Builders like chili, right?
Joe's shirt even went with the theme. I found it in Nashville last weekend after the ladies retreat. It has a little builder guy and says God Built Everything. It has Hebrew 3:4 on it: For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. That was the perfect reminder to me that even though the world might see our beautiful Joe as "flawed" God made him just the way he is and no matter what challenges he encounters (or brings our way) he is a blessing and God has a purpose for him all his own.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A little birdie...


Sunday Scrappin' is a craft meme and we're always looking for more scrappers or paper crafters to join in the fun! Check it out!

My Ta Da for this week is a bunch of "Little Birdie" cards I made to thank the many ladies who helped to make our church's women's retreat such a great success.The base of the cards I bought awhile back at Micheal's and decorated them one day this week. I love the bird stamp! It has a dozen or so phrases that all fit perfectly into the flourish! What do you think?


Friday, March 27, 2009

Grandma Says: Parent Power

Grandma Says, a publication of Growing Child

Articles that appear from Grandma Says are focused on general parenting practices and philosophy and are not as age-specific as articles that appear in Growing Child.

"Grandma Says" is a feature of Growing Child and we encourage you to send your comments to: GrandmaSays@GrowingChild.com


PARENT POWER

This is a true story. My granddaughter Rose has attended Villa Heights, a very good magnet school within her school district for the past two plus years.

Last fall, the school board announced that they planned to close this school, and merge it with a failing school across town.

It didn't seem to make good sense to many people to try to improve a failing school by closing one that succeeded so well. So, the families involved in the school, including my son and daughter-in-law, decided to try to save their school.

They worked closely as a team, contacting individual school board members and inviting them for visits, to see why this unique school worked so well, and how its uniqueness could be lost with the change.

They wrote letters and e-mails, made telephone calls and visits. They planned and worked together, and they persisted for a period of months.

Finally, the school board announced that they had reversed their original decision, and would allow Villa Heights to continue to exist. One school board member specifically mentioned the power of the parent action in making their decision.

Tell your friends to sign up for a free subscription of Grandma Says at www.GrowingChild.com/FreeGrandmaSays.

I tell this story because it is enormously important that parents understand that one of their important roles is to advocate for their children. The world has gotten increasingly large and complex, with bureaucratic administrative decisions often not being made in the interest of anything but some bottom line.

As things go wrong in many communities, quick fixes are often sought which are definitely not necessarily in the best interests of children and their families. At times it may seem as though individual parents can do little in the face of a steamrolling system.

But this is not so. Parents are the ones who know what is best for their children, and they are the only ones who can make those ideas known loud and clear. What a triumph for this group of parents, who refused to give up on the excellent school, and insisted that others pay attention to what they already knew about the importance of keeping their school.

What a lesson for their children as well, to discover that individual opinions do have an impact and can influence the course of events. The systems of government they learn about in school seem remote and all-powerful, but this experience helped them understand that in a democracy, individual efforts can be extremely effective.

This was a concrete lesson in learning that working for an idea may have powerful effect, and that we are not helpless to take action on our own behalf.

The children also understood that their education was important enough for busy parents to attend meeting after meeting, to spend hours working on the common cause. What better self-esteem booster could parents give their children than to show such support for their school!

As parents, you will encounter situations in your own communities that are not providing optimum conditions for your children, whether it is television advertising, unsafe neighborhoods, or mediocre schools.

Keep this story as a reminder that parents have the power to effect change on their children's behalf. And only parents who want the best for their children have the emotional strength to persist and the power to succeed.


© Growing Child 2009 Please feel free to forward this article to a friend.

Receive your free subscription of Grandma Says at www.GrowingChild.com/FreeGrandmaSays or contact Growing Child customer service at service@growingchild.com or call (800) 927-7289



Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting to know Jill Savage

I don't think I've ever had an interview on my blog before. This is exciting! Last year was probably the first I'd even heard of Jill Savage. She spoke at a women's group that I attended and I was encouraged by her sincerity and openness. I was blessed to plan an event at my own church this past January that Jill was kind enough to speak at. Again she captivated me with her words of experience and encouragement. I'm happy to share with you today what works for me: an interview with Jill Savage!


Today I’d like to welcome author and speaker, Jill Savage. Jill’s recent book Real Moms…Real Jesus, just released, and I wanted to ask her about her real mom moments..

Jill, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Mark and I have been married 25 years and we have five children. Anne is 24 and married to our wonderful son-in-love, Matt. Evan is 21 and married to our beautiful daughter-in-love, Julie. Erica is 18 and a college student at Heartland Community College. Kolya is 15 and in the 8th grade. We adopted Kolya at the age of 9 from Russia---the God story about his adoption is included in the Real Moms…Real Jesus book. And Austin is 12 and in the 7th grade.

Tell us about your newest book Real Moms...Real Jesus?

Real Moms…Real Jesus is a book designed to help moms understand that when Jesus lived on this earth he was fully God, yet fully man. We don’t often think about the fact that he was a human being and he lived the full human experience: pain, hunger, fatigue, frustration, betrayal, disappointment. He experienced it all!

There’s one verse in the Bible about Jesus that simply says “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.” Well, isn’t that the life of a mom? Large crowds follow her to the bathroom. They follow her to the kitchen. To the grocery store. She’s in high demand! And when Jesus lived on this earth, He was in high demand, too.

Why did you want to write this book?

Most of us long for a friend who understands. Yes, we need girlfriends who understand what our life is like. But we also need to understand that we have a friend who understands in Jesus. Too many of us think of God as being distant and unable to relate to our daily struggles. But nothing could be further from the truth! He understands and he wants us to build our friendship with Him. He wants to not only be our Savior, but also our Friend.

What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

I hope that readers will gain a new perspective about their relationship with Jesus. I also hope to weave God’s truth into the daily life of a mom.

What unique elements will the reader find in Real Moms…Real Jesus?

Each chapter looks at some character trait in Jesus’ life that can help us in our life as a mom. In between the chapters are interactive vignettes that provide brief, refreshing glimpses into our real, messy, busy lives.

There are also questions at the end of the chapter for further consideration and suggested Bible reading in the book of Matthew. If the reader chooses to pursue the suggested reading, she will have read the book of Matthew completely by the end of the book!

There is also a leader’s guide in the back of the book so it can be used in a group setting.

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (

www.hearts-at-home.org), a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

I am very excited about this book! I believe that if a mom can strengthen her relationship with Jesus Christ, she will feel more equipped to be the mom she wants to be. I’m also offering an online book discussion on my blog beginning Tuesday, April 7. If you’d like to join us, you can subscribe to my blog at

www.jillsavage.org.

I’d love to hear a reader’s thoughts after they read the book, too! You can connect to me through my blog at

www.jillsavage.org.

Thanks, Jill, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your real mom, real Jesus moments with us.

You can purchase your own copy of Real Moms…Real Jesus by clicking here.

And be sure to check out Hearts at Home, their conferences for moms, and all their online resources

here.



Monday, March 23, 2009

Retreat Recap

This weekend was such a blessing! It was alot of work for those of us helping coordinate everything and I was a little nervous about how it would go since we were at a new facility, had more than twice as many women as usual and were trying some new things this year. But I think it all came together nicely!
The retreat center where we stayed was beautiful. There were trails for the outdoorsy girls and we were blessed with perfect spring weather! I took the time to walk through the labyrinth that was right behind the main lodge. It was so peaceful.
The topic or theme of the weekend was Idols of the Heart. Talk about being convicted. There were a couple of things in my life, but one in particular that I had been brushing off as just a bad habit that was no big deal. But through the teaching and sharing in the sessions during the retreat I realized how much I need to take a step back from this thing and bring my focus back to the Lord. I think this was a very heavy message but our teacher did a very good job of ending on a high note reminding us of our freedom in Christ.
And what is a girls weekend without a little silliness? My friend and I did a "helping hands" skit where I was her hands and put makeup on her... we were all cracking up!
We had all of our W.O.W. bible study girls there together this weekend! Sorry we forgot to take a group shot until after one of us had left!
Anyway.... it was a great weekend with a whole lot of wonderful women! I'm thankful that I was able to be a part of it but I'm also thankful to be back home with my boys!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blog Party Giveaways!

Last year around this time I got myself hooked on the blog party thing! Its a great way to meet new blogging friends! Check out the blog party that 5MinutesForMom is hosting!
Ultimate Blog Party 2009
I'm giving away two prizes in the blog party! Check them out along with the tons of other prizes available! Here are the ones that I'm going to be giving away.
1st prize
US shipping only
Prize: girly scrapbooking embellishment kit
Details: It has beautiful chipboard pieces and flowers in lovely feminine shades of pink. It would make any scrapper happy! (Blue kit NOT included).

2nd prize
US shipping only
Prize: one paperback copy of the book: Journey to the Homeland by Hannah Stahlhut
Details: This book was written by a teen for tweens. It would be a great gift or a good book to read as a family. The story goes something like this:

Keegan is a young orphan in a medieval land. He has always been extremely gifted with animals. In fact, he can speak to them. Above all things, he wishes to keep this a secret. He fears what would happen if townspeople knew his best friend, Adrian, is a jaguar.

When Keegan and Adrian rescue Nora, a girl in their village, a huge confusion arises. The villagers wrongly assume that Nora has the magical ability to talk to animals. Soon after, she is kidnapped because of this accusation.

Journey to the Homeland follows Keegan, Nora, and Adrian as they try to evade the deadly kidnappers and survive alone in the wilderness.


There are a few prizes that I've got my eye on for myself too! I'm hoping to win any of the following: #19, 21, 22 - which are all $50 Target giftcards, #37 - digital pedometer, # 53 - Signing Time Video Kit, USC7 - a custom monogramed tote, USC33 - Turbo Mama Book, INTL31 - a Bible Memory Verse Songs download... they're all great prizes though!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Encouragement

Our church's women's retreat is this weekend and I have been helping to coordinate parts of it. One of the things that I am in charge of is the "Encouragement Bags". I've done this before at events that I planned in college and it worked well. I even have a few of those notes still stuck in my bible somewhere. Its nice to go back later and remember the kind words written by our friends and loved ones. So, encouragement works for me!
At the retreat, we will have a table holding "Encouragement Bags." Each lady will have a paper bag with her name on it which will be left on that table until leaving the retreat. Please take a few moments sometime during the weekend
to jot a note or few words of encouragement to a few ladies (or all of them!). We will have note cards and pens available near the encouragement bags for you to use. This will be an opportunity to edify and uplift one another with words from the heart. Then when we go home we will be able to open our bags and read words of encouragement from our fellow women of Grace. What a blessing that will be!

The BIBLE gives IMPORTANCE to ENCOURAGEMENT

· Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
· But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13
· Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19
· Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
· Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Please take the time and effort to observe and interact with some women that maybe you do not spend a lot of time with normally. Do not be afraid to point out good qualities that you see in them. It is such a blessing to be told that you made a good comment about the message today, that someone appreciated your sharing about a prayer request, your new haircut looks cute… the ideas are endless! Who doesn’t like to hear an “atta girl” once in awhile?!?



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day Prayer

Today we are enjoying beautiful springlike weather here in the Hoosier state, which is rare for St. Patrick's Day. The sun is shining, its warm but we have a nice breeze blowing by to remind us that its not quite fully spring just yet.
The prayer request that I have is actually about our Little Joe, not St. Patty. Around the end of last week we got a notice from our insurance company (that we've been with since last fall). It stated that they found Joe's delays to be a preexisting condition and he was therefore uninsurable and they were removing him from our policy. We are unsure of how his problems can be labeled a preexisting condition when he has no diagnosis. We are in the process of talking to different people and seeing if there is anything we can do to get them to reverse their decision.
Also, there will be a hearing at the end of the month with Children's Special Health Care Services to appeal that our effective date be moved a mere two weeks back to include our first appointment at Riley where they did a series of blood and urine tests that cost a pretty penny. We have been anxious to hear what their decision will be.
On a lighter note: Joe has been working hard in his First Steps therapy. He's been vocalizing alot lately and has even been whistling sometimes. While I can't say that he has really learned many new skills lately, he has been getting more and more comfortable doing things that were difficult for him a short while ago. Things like sitting, reaching for toys, etc. We are trying to transition Joe to a different sippie cup. The one he has been using for quite some time was great but had a soft tip and he has gnawed holes in almost all of them! So, we are working on getting him crossed over to a hard tipped cup. He is interacting with us more and more. We have gotten to attend a couple children's programs at one of our local libraries and we all enjoyed being able to do that together. Here is a video of Nate and Joe playing ball just yesterday. Please ignore my scolding voice in the background. ;-)
video
So we would greatly appreciate it if you could please say a prayer for these matters mentioned above. Insurance is not a good thing to be without and Joe's mounting medical bills are not something we are completely prepared to pay for on our own right now. Thank you and we will keep you updated as we learn more about the situation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Its that time of year!

Well folks.... in case you need reminding... its that time of year again. Tax time. Sigh... no matter how good you are at keeping track of your dollars and cents it is still a chore to gather it all up and tally it to complete your yearly tax return. I'm blessed to have a husband who is good at that kind of thing but so many of us are at a loss when it comes to doing our taxes.

Do not be afraid to ask for help if you are not sure what you to do at tax time. It would certainly be worth a small monetary investment to hire a Tax Relief Specialists to make sure your taxes are done right. Having one little error could lead to alot of problems in the future. What might have been only a small amount to begin with could end up being a huge bill when late fees and other hidden charges appear.

Thankfully there are many resources out there to help those of us who are tax challenged. There are tons of businesses out there, both with store fronts where we can meet face to face with a tax consultant and also ones online that we can quickly and easily get assistance getting our tax questions answered via the world wide web. Whether you have basic tax questions or if your questions are more specific like something about: IRS innocent spouse relief, or 941 payroll deposit, there are qualified tax relief representatives out there that can help. Hope you are able to get the assistance you need to get your taxes done by the deadline!



Sunday, March 15, 2009

One Page!

This week I got one lonely little page done. Well, its better than nothin'! It is pictured here with the sketch that inspired the layout. The lovely little tags on the left were a b-day gift from Toni, who is actually in the picture - all the way on the left. Thanks, Toni! The photo is from one of our scrappin' nights together! Love it! The scrappin' store that we were at has since closed... sigh... we miss it!
I was also able to complete a display board for a women's group I have been involved with. We are trying to get the word out about the ministry and thought the display board would be a good way to get some attention! The flowery border on the top and bottom is actually a wallpaper border and the empty green box is actually able to be used as a chalk board - I got both of those at the dollar store! I left the "chalk board" open for the group leader to fill in with info later. What do ya think?
Well... that's all for now. Check out the rest of the Sunday Scrappin' crew HERE.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Women of Worth


I've recently started attending a young women's bible study (yes, I think I'm still considered young!) that is hosted by Miss Sniz. We have a wonderful group of nine young ladies ranging from just out of high school all the way to Sniz herself who's oldest just started high school. It is a farely diverse group. We have some singles, a newlywed, and a couple of us with kids. While we're all pretty familiar with eachother from church it is a brand new group and I'm looking forward to getting to know each woman better in the coming months.
We are planning on using our weekly meetings to pray for one another, study the Word, learn some life skills (cooking, money management, maybe some crafts, etc), and of course we'll have some good old fashioned girl time too!
We will be going through The Worth of a Woman Bible study from Focus on the Family. It is designed to help women discover their true identify in Christ and develop a closer relationship with their Savior. The series provides the opportunity for women to reconnect with their Savior and one another through Bible study, prayer, fellowship and activities.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Say It Forward


Say it Forward - Carnival of Loyal Commenters is a new weekly meme where bloggers recognize their loyal commenters by featuring them. It is hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, and they have some great suggestions on how you can feature your loyal commenter. Then, you link up at 5 Minutes for Mom so other people can read about your featured commenter and you can visit other posts, hopefully making some new friends along the way. They explain it a whole lot better than I do!

My featured commenter is forgetfulone. She has been commenting on my blog for awhile now and has even given me a couple awards! She is a cheerful commenter and I've been blessed to have her as a regular visitor! Thanks forgetfulone, this Say It Forward award is for you!!


award