Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Joe's 3rd Birthday!

Last week we had Joe's birthday party with our families. It is such a blessing to get everyone together and celebrate. It was a Disney's Cars themed party and I was pretty proud of the cake that I made. I was inspired by some cakes that I saw on Coolest Homemade Cakes. I modified it a bit but thought it turned out pretty good. I added Oreo cookie pieces and a cup of vanilla pudding to the cake batter and in the middle layer so it was a yummy cookies and cream cake. Not too shabby. ;-) Joe seemed to like it. He devoured the cake!
He must not have gotten his fill from the pizza and cake because he tried to eat the tissue paper and gifts too. :-)
Isaac took Joe's actual birthday off so we could spend the day together as a family. I really wanted to get out and do something fun together with the boys since it won't be long now until the baby comes and I'm sure we'll slow down a bit while we adjust to having three kids! ;-) We ended up deciding to spend the afternoon at the zoo, seeing the dolphin show and even splurging to ride the train. It was such a nice day together.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Scrappin' Sistahs Reunite!

Its been ages since my scrappin' girls and I have gotten together. Lehi had a baby in the fall and I'm getting ready to have one in a few weeks, there were the holidays, etc - we've been busy. Anyway, Lehi was awesome enough to have us over to her place for some great scrapbooking time together on Friday night. It was nice to be able to chat and create together again. Here are the couple of pages that I got done.

This one is of our trip to Great Wolf Lodge just before Christmas. It was such a fun trip! We'll definitely have to do that again sometime!

And this is of our trip to the apple orchard last summer. I paired the title and the ribbon up a long time ago and hadn't found the right pictures to go with them until now. I'm so happy with the way it all came together.

This is probably my favorite of the night. I love seeing other scrappers' elegant pages and often wish I could do pages like that but rarely have the pictures to make it happen. I finally did it using the maternity pictures taken a few weeks ago. I was really happy with how this page came out - love the flowers!

For more creativeness check out other Sunday Scrappers!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hearts at Home Blog Tour Take TWO!! Interview w/ Jill & Mark Savage!

Today I'd like to welcome Jill and Mark Savage. Jill and Mark's newest book Living with Less so your Family has More just released and I've invited them to share a little bit about this great resource!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We have been married for 27 years…17 of them happily. After finding ourselves in a marriage counselor’s office around year 8 or so, we realized that we really didn’t know how to be married. We worked hard to turn things around and now we like to share that hope with other couples.

We have five children ranging from 13 to 25. Our oldest three are married. Anne (25) and her husband, Matt, live in Zion, IL, and are expecting our first grandchild in April. (We are very excited!) Evan (22) and his wife, Julie, have been married a year and a half and they live just a few miles from us. Erica (19) married her husband Kendall last September. They live in Augusta, GA, and wherever else the Army takes them.

We have two teenagers still at home. Kolya just turned 16. He’s learning to drive and we’ve nearly worn a hole in the carpet on the floor in the passenger seat trying to find that non-existent brake pedal. Kolya is the newest member of the Savage family. We adopted him at the age of nine from Russia.

Austin is 13 and in the 8th grade. He wants us to make sure and tell the world that this “living with less” life is a real bummer because he’s the ONLY kid in 8th grade who doesn’t have a cell phone.

Tell us about your newest book Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

The world screams the message that bigger is always better, but we have found that is not often true. When it comes to raising a family, less materially can actually result in more relationally. Children don’t need the best houses, the best lessons, the best cars, or the best clothes. What they really need is the best home life and the best family relationships we can give them.

Why did you want to write this book?

We didn’t start out with the “less is more” mindset. We started as a double income family wanting to have the “best” of everything. Then Mark decided to pursue ministry. We went from the “high life” to the “frugal life” very quickly as we moved to another state for him to go to Bible College full-time.

That experience introduced us to the concept that less is more. We definitely had less money, but we had more time. We had less stress and more peace. We had less activities and more fun.

Since that experience, we’ve continued to live primarily on one income for the past twenty years. We’ve had to battle cultural peer pressure and make different decisions for our family than many other families in our neighborhood have made. But we’ve never felt that we were materially depriving ourselves or our kids…instead we’ve focused on what we’ve actually been able to provide for them emotionally and relationally.

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

We hope the reader is encouraged to evaluate how they are living their life, spending their money, and thinking about family matters. Our goal is to introduce families to the “less is more” concept and then equip them with the attitudes and actions to actually make that happen.

For families that are already committed to less is more, we hope to bolster their resolve and help them stay focused on the long-term goal of providing relationally for their kids.

In today’s economy, there are many families being forced to live with less. We want to help them see the opportunity they have with this unexpected downsizing they’ve been forced to do.

And for those who have just been a little discontent with their life and saying things like, “I’m tired of the rat race of life,” or “Is there more to life than drive-thru meals for dinner?” we hope to help them see other choices they have and how they can lead their family in a different direction.

What unique elements will the reader find in Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

For couples who want to read the book together, we’ve included discussion questions at the end of every chapter. This helps move the readers to discussion and eventually actions. Even a single parent can use the discussion questions for personal evaluation.

Readers will find this book a practical guide to changing your attitude and your actions to live a successful “less is more” life. They’ll find our writing style to be a warm, casual, honest discussion where we not only share our victories but our mistakes along the way. We are an average couple living successfully on an average income who want to help others to see the possibilities before them.

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 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?

It’s healthy for parents to occasionally pause and evaluate their vision for their family and the choices they are making. We hope this resource will help them do that together and that it will lead them to live a life of little regret.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bedroom: AFTER

Visit thecsiproject.com

Ok, for those who did not see my posts about the re-do process... here is a refresher of what our bedroom looked like before. BLAH! ;-)
Over the past few weeks we painted, rearranged the furniture (including taking some pieces out of the room altogether), re-shaped and reupholstered the headboard & bench, sewed a new bedskirt and pillows and added a few "new" wall hangings and accessories. This is a project that we have saved for over time. And while we were able to use alot of items that we had already we did purchase a few things that were on sale or we used coupons. I do not feel that the room suffered because we are on a budget. I am completely happy with how it turned out!

And... finally... here are the "after" pictures of our master bedroom "makeover"!!

It was alot of work and our room was in chaos for awhile. I knew it was going to be worth it but I didn't realize just how great everything was going to come together! And to top it all off Isaac has been really pleased with the final results too! We both feel like the new furniture layout makes the whole room seem bigger and the color on the walls warms up the space. The new headboard and pillows add an air of sophistication that our room never had before. I want to curl up and read a book in our room now - where before it was kind of just the room that we slept in. Thanks so much to my mom and Isaac for all their hard work helping me to make it all happen! I love it!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bedroom Re-do: DURING

Here we are in the process of painting our master bedroom. My mom and Isaac & I all worked on the painting.
Then my mom and I tackled the headboard together (as you can see by the picture it was mostly her). It was originally just a rectangle that we stapled some fabric over. But I found a pix of an upholstered headboard online that I liked and mom cut our board to mimic the shape. Then we added extra padding and a new fabric in an elegant b&w damask.
We found a coordinating striped fabric to make a bedskirt and matching pillows. We kind of dragged our feet getting the project started but once we got the planning and main decisions made (my mom and I feed off of each other's indecisiveness) it moved fairly quickly.

We couldn't have done this project without my mom's help. She has put in alot of hours over the last few weeks helping us with the painting and sewing. She has been great!! Check back tomorrow for our "after" pictures!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our Bedroom DIY Re-Do: BEFORE

Our master bedroom has never been anything fancy. In fact it has the same white walls that we moved into over six years ago, hand-me down furniture and barely there decorations. This project has been on my dream to-do-list for awhile now and we just have not gotten around to it til now. I thought this would be the perfect time since we are planning a homebirth and it would be beneficial to have a calming oasis of a bedroom to help me to relax during the labor.

I am a dork and watch decorating shows sometimes and they get my creative juices flowing. Using this piece of artwork (pictured below) as inspiration, my mom and I worked together to pick colors and get ideas for what I wanted to transform this room into. I tried to include Isaac in the planning process but like a typical guy he did not have a tremendous amount of preferences concerning decorating. I would like to think that I did a pretty good job of keeping his taste in mind, I tried to stay away from anything too froo-froo, kept it pretty low cost, I did not buy the wicker chairs that I liked and he did not... That is pretty good, right? ;-)
I have been able to find a few good buys while shopping for things for this room re-do. I knew I wanted a chair or pair of chairs and had been checking craigslist faithfully for weeks with no luck. In the end I ended up finding a great cream wingback chair and ottoman at GoodWill for $35!!
When shopping for accessories I found a few things at Hobby Lobby at 50-80% off and I used a giftcard from Christmas! Have I mentioned how much I love finding good deals? ;-)

Stay tuned - I will be posting "after" pix soon!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Busy Mom's Bible

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the Busy Mom's Bible this week. This edition of the NIV bible is chock full of devotions for everyday moms. They are split up so you can choose to do 1, 5 or 10 minute versions of the devotions depending on how much time you have. They begin with a bible verse and are accompanied by notes and encouragement based on the verse that are specifically written to be relevant to the average mom's busy lifestyle. Between taking care of my two boys and managing our home I often struggle with finding (or rather making) the time to spend in the word. This bible is meant to make it easier to get time in the Word into my busy days. I feel encouraged that it is possible for me to make my bible reading a priority again.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Busy Mom's Bible check it out online @ www.busymomsbible.com

Friday, March 19, 2010

Out with the old...

At the beginning of February Joe was seen by an orthotist and measured and cast for new orthotics. It took a couple of weeks but we finally were able to pick up his new "special shoes". Nate was again allowed to choose the pattern - I like being able to include him as much as possible, and since Joe doesn't really care about that its a good way to let Nate feel like he is a part of the process. Joe's old orthotics are the blue ones on the left. The new ones are actually quite different. We now have two sets that work together - the short set is for him to wear all the time and helps with his feet turning in (pronating) and when he is working on walking the little ones snap into the tall ones which help keep him from "back kneeing". So far so good. It was easier transitioning to a new pair than it was when he got the first ones. He wasn't a big fan of the orthotics in the beginning.

Today we had Joe's case conference with his "new" therapy team at the school. Our First Steps physical therapist and developmental therapist (who will be Joe's speech therapist in school) were both there. We got some questions answered and Isaac and I are both pretty happy with the amount of therapy Joe will be getting once he starts developmental preschool. We are a little hesitant to have him take the bus right away so we are planning on driving him for awhile until we are more comfortable with the idea of the school bus ride. It sounds like they take great care of the little guys on the special needs preschool bus but its still hard for me to want to put my little guy (barely three years old) onto a "big" bus. Though I imagine once the baby comes I will be a little more eager to let the bus pick up and drop Joe off than I will be to pack up three kids to take him to and from developmental preschool.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finally.... Girls Weekend!!

Its been a busy weekend/week around here! First - Thursday evening a few of us went to the airport to welcome back my friend, Jess. She has been a nanny to a military family in Germany since the beginning of the year. We have missed her terribly and are very thankful for a visit, albeit a short one. Nate has been anxiously awaiting her arrival and helped make a "welcome home Jess" sign to mark her return. She has been suffering from a cold and serious jet-lag but will probably have adjusted to the time difference around the time she will be returning to Germany for another two months.

Friday and Saturday was our church ladies retreat in Brown County. Even though I was a little under the weather I was still able to enjoy a great time of fellowship and teaching and sharing. It is always good to get together with other women and be reminded that the struggles that we are going through are not necessarily unique. We all share similar trials and God wants us to learn from one another and lean on one another. We heard some great messages on contentment. Something that we all struggle with at times (or all the time!).

And of course there was also our annual girls weekend (but its kind of during the week this time but that's ok! ;-) "My girls" from college and I get together around New Year's usually but Jess was out of the country so we moved our get together until this week. They all crashed on our couches Sat-Wed. We got in some good visiting, got to go out to my parents' farm and try out some new toys, went to the Children's Museum, out to dinner at The Claddaugh (before the St. Patty's Day rush), did alot of cooking, eating and watching chick flicks... you know, the usual. ;-)

As crazy as the last week has been, I'm very thankful for the blessing of girl-time! I love the women that God has placed in my life and don't know what I would do without them!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Favorite Things Swap!!!

It was so much fun planning and putting together the package for MamaRazzi's Favorite Things Swap! I have alot of favorite things so it wasn't hard to figure out what to do, except that I couldn't exactly wrap McDreamy up and mail him! ;-) But I found plenty of other things to share with my buddy!
Here are a few of my faves that I included in the package for my swap buddy Becky:
- a scrap kit for this super cute purse album
- a mini-manicure kit - who doesn't love a good mani? ;-)
- the Nicholas Sparks' book Dear John - I love reading fiction especially books turned to movies
- my current scent from Bath & Body Works is Japanese Cherry Blossom so I sent Becky a travel size of that body wash - *travel size things in general are a fave of mine. I don't know why - maybe its just because they are so cute and tiny! ;-)
- a Men Are From Mars - Women Are From Venus book - I believe its important to take some time to focus on your marriage relationship - give it a little TLC.
- a Restaurant.com certificate for a mexican place near her - have I mentioned I love mexican food? ;-) I think I could eat it every day!
- of course what is a favorite things list without some chocolate?? I included a Snickers (my fave candy bar) and a Ghiridelli square (my fave ever since I went to San Francisco!).

And of course I couldn't post about the swap without telling you all about the goodies I got from my swap buddy Becky!! Here are the favorite things that she sent me:
- Cadbury Creme Eggs - my hubby will be so thrilled! He LOVES them!
- Slim Jims - Nate and I ate a few with our mac-n-cheese at lunch! YUM!
- Sweet Pea & Violet body wash and a loofa
- Paper Crafting magazine - already some crafty ideas I might need to steal ;-)
- Juicy Fruit - perfect because I'm trying to chew gum when I want to munch (its a Biggest Loser tip ;-)
- Robin's Eggs Malted Milk balls - I am not a big fan of malted milk balls usually but I do get into the Robin's Eggs at Easter time - they're a yummy seasonal treat!
- yummy scented Cinnamon Glade candle - totally going on my kitchen window sill :-)
- some awesome rubber alphabet stamps that I can't wait to try out!
- and Becky was sweet enough to include Veggie Tales' chocolates for the boys - Nate would have eaten them all at lunch if I had let him!

What fun! Thanks to MamaRazzi for hosting the swap and to Becky for being my partner!!