Friday, February 26, 2010

7 Quick Takes volume 4

1. Wow! It has been a busy month or two. My 2010 has been moving so quickly I can barely catch my breath! We have been house/dog sitting this past week. It has been a fun time, and although I dearly miss my king-size bed, it has been a nice time to be a little family of 4 again and gives my parents and siblings a small break from all the chaos we bring as well.

2. With this treat of family time, I've also gotten a good dose of TV. I don't miss TV, but when I get a chance to watch it, I do enjoy it. I've been watching a lot of "Say Yes to the Dress" and "What Not to Wear" along with the cake-off shows and a random thing here and there. Mr. 2-yo has enjoyed a little Playhouse Disney each morning after breakfast as well. I've also been able to do much of this while exercising on the treadmill. I do NOT like treadmills. ;p

3. On a more spiritual and much deeper note, this Lent has been unbelievable so far! In a very positive way. My dear husband and I have been journalling and meditating on a specific topic each evening before bed and then share our thoughts in our journals and discuss afterwards. It's been a truly blessed time together and I am so thankful that he thought of doing this.

4. Our new obsession in this house is stickers on the face. Both Mr. 2-yo and Mr. 1-yo love putting little stickers all over their faces and request that I join in on the fun. It's been pretty funny to see us all walking around with random dots all over our faces. My husband was shoveling the walkway yesterday and we were watching him from the front door. When he got the front porch, he looked up and was startled to see our stickered-faces. It made me chuckle.

5. Back to being on our's also been nice to cook and bake again. I know I can do it still with my parents, but there's no need for me to do much because my mom handles it all. I don't mind having the break, but there's something special about fixing a meal that is especially meant for your husband (and your children...) after he's had a long, hard day at work. Thursday night I made chili dogs (which isn't hard but the husband requested it), spaghetti and strawberry cupcakes. He was so touched and that made my day!

6. Has anyone played Settlers of Catan? My husband and I are boardgame junkies and this has been our most recent favorite. We have been trying different ways to play this game and it's been a lot of fun. We found out from some good friends of ours (who we frequently play boardgames with) that you can actually buy "expansion packs" that offer even more varieties of playing this game. Now, I know what to buy the husband for his birthday :).

7. Anyone super-coupon? I was really into it for awhile and then we moved in with my parents who buy all the groceries and don't buy much junk food (which is a lot of what you buy when super-couponing, it seems), so I stopped. I got back into the toiletries part and now with one of our local grocery chains offering really huge deals, I want to enter back again. I'm a little scared and overwhelmed, but I know I have to get past my inhibitions and just go for it. Hopefully, I will!

Check out more 7 Quick Takes over at!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We're All a Little Nutty Around Here...

I have been searching for the perfect laundry detergent. For my diapers. I could probably use anything that does not have a fragrance for my clothes, but my diapers and their stinkiness have been a sore issue with me. I love cloth diapering. I would not do it any other way. They've saved us money, are incredibly cute, and eco-friendly, but they have their downfalls too. The main one is stink. For some reason, I have had constant stink issues in the last year. It's been beyond frustrating as I go through detergent after detergent after detergent to try to find one that will work without me resorting to bleach. Well, I think I've finally found one I love and I wanted to share my find :)...

Soap nuts. I found these little nuts (literally) through one of my local and favorite cloth diapering stores. The lady who runs this business came to do a demonstration and I thought, "I've tried everything else; might as well see what this is all about!" So, my dear husband and I took the kids and went to the demonstration. Now, I have to tell you that my husband is not one to be convinced just because a product is said to be "natural" and "organic." We are still going over the pros and cons of organic food vs. non-organic. When he saw these, he was not only intrigued, but thought trying these out was a great idea! We took a couple samples home and I loved them so much, we went back and bought a bag, along with the brightener and stain remover to try those out as well.

Soap nuts are organic and natural. They are not a detergent, but act like a detergent does in that they clean and sanitize your laundry. They are not expensive at all ($12.99 for up to 85 loads!) and they do not have all those additives and fragrances that seep into your skin and blood that normal detergents contain. They also act as a natural softener as well. I've never been a huge fan of fabric softeners and haven't ever used dryer sheets, but these little nuts make my clothes incredibly soft! Using the brightener with the soap nuts for my diapers has FINALLY gotten rid of the stink! And an added bonus is that my diapers are brightened and look so clean! If you'd like to learn more, visit Yoreganics website. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Packer Fan and My One-socked Boy

Mr. 1-yo, who fell asleep before pajama-time, in his typical one-socked style.

Mr. 2-yo sporting his Packers jersey quite proudly :).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And Thus Begins Our Journey

Today begins the first day of this Lenten season and I feel like I have not been blindsided by this day for the first time in many years. It seems to creep up on me and then pass by with me barely realizing it. Each year I always say that I want to grow and I want to really focus on Lent and each year it seems like I fail. This year may be no different, but I hope that is not the case and I feel like I'm already on this journey.

Starting out this month already working on becoming a better me has helped me embark on this journey that much more easily. I have begun the hike up the mountain of betterment and I have already started wearing-in my boots. I have done okay working on not complaining. And I think I have done pretty well keeping my actual complaining words to a minimum. Now, I need to work on my attitude. Something else that has made me more alive and aware of the work involved in this journey is that I have a partner with whom I will go down this road - my husband. We have tried to keep prayer in our lives and we have succeeded many times and failed many times as well, but we have always gone through Lent separately. Last night, we sat down and talked about what we wanted to give up and where we wanted to head - individually, as a couple, and as a family - in this great journey. We didn't just talk about Lent, but the time we have left on this earth, be it minutes or many, many years. We know that if we want to raise our children to love God as much as we desire to then we have to live our faith and live it together. So, this Lent, I will have the man I married at my side, encouraging me to grow, and I will do the same for him. After all, that's what marriage is for :)...

Also, head on down to Relevant Radio's 40 Links for 40 Days for some great meditations and such to help you on your Lenten journey.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little Beauty before the Ashes

Set me as a seal on your heart,
Set me as a seal on your soul.
As strong as death is love,
Unyielding as the grave,
Nothing will quench its flame,
Nothing will quench its flame.

Kiss me, my love,
That your name be on my lips
You intoxicate my being
With the fragrance of your presence.

How beautiful you are
My darling
Show me your face,
Let me hear your voice.
Sweet as the dew in the early morn,
Like a lily among the thorns.

Set me as a seal on your heart,
Set me as a seal on your soul.
As strong as death is love,
Unyielding as the grave,
Nothing will quench its flame,
Nothing will quench its flame.

I looked for you,
The one my heart loves,
I looked for you, but did not find you.
Searched through the night,
Until I rested in your sight,
Now I will never let you go.

'Cause you have stolen my heart,
My sister, my bride,
Stolen my heart with one glance of your eye.
Your lips so sweet,
Adorned with honey,
My hands, they drip with myrrh.

Set Me as a Seal by Matt Maher

Once you experience authentic love, how can you even glance at the counterfeit?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lenten Sacrifices

Sacrifice. That is rarely a word that this world looks upon with any positivity today. And yet, in our Catholic faith, it's a word that is central to life. It is so easy to reject the notion of sacrificing, but the rewards are far greater if we embrace it.

With NaNoCompMo, sacrifice has been in my mind a lot more often than normal. My eyes are being open more and more to the little ways I can hold my tongue and become self-less in one way or another. I'm seeing that even when, and maybe especially when, I'm having particularly stressful, exhausting days, that I have not really done much sacrificing. Many times the stress is there because all I can think is, "What about ME? Why ME? What's in it for ME?"

This Lent, I am still not sure what I plan to sacrifice. There have been many ideas floating through my head. Whatever it is, I want it to be a challenge. I want to grow from it, not just be a little inconvenienced. What are you doing for Lent?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Weekend Craft Project

We've been sick here with the flu - all of us. Thankfully, my dear husband seemed to get by with the "mild" version and seems to be somewhat on the mend already. Mr. 2-yo is good except that his voice is still scratchy and he still coughs a bit. Mr. 1-yo has had it the most miserable and has been on my chest for the last three days, as I slowly recoup as well.

However, before most of us caught this bug, the boys and I had planned to attend one of Mr. 2-yo's friend's birthday party this past weekend, so I went straight to work on a birthday present. Because I have no little girls of my own yet, I love to be able to make things for others who do and this friend was no exception. I set out and because I wasn't exactly sure how much tulle to get (and JoAnn's was having a major sale on their tulle), I ended up buying enough to make 3 tutus, 2 fairy wands, and 2 doll tutus. I made one set for another one of Mr. 2-yo's friends who's birthday party we missed a while back and another tutu for yet another one of his friends (he has a lot of friends who happen to be girls, I'm realizing). Unfortunately, I seem to always forget to take pictures, so my dear friend was kind enough to let me use hers to show off the tutus and fairy wand. Her daughter loved them!

Also, here's where I found out how to make both.

Friday, February 5, 2010

7 Quick Takes volume 3

Err...8 today!

1. Checking the mail is one of my favorite daily activities (minus Sunday, of course!). Sending letters the old-fashioned way is pretty much non-existent in my world, but I still enjoy checking the mail. I really should start writing letters more than the "thank you" notes I send out after receiving gifts. It would be a nice, personal way to keep in touch.

2. As I walked outside, I was pleasantly surprised to find it snowing! I love snow! I do not really enjoy cold weather, but I do enjoy snow. I could watch it all day. It brings a little joy to my life during these cold, cloudy days.

3. Another project finished! I am so proud of myself and it isn't even the last minute! I am making gifts for a couple of Mr. 2-yo's friends and I have had such a blast doing this. They are for two little girls and since I don't have any daughters yet, being able to create things with pink and lots of prettiness has put a smile on my face. Not that I wish I'd have girls over boys because there's not a single ounce of truth in that. It's just harder for me to make my boys much of anything since most of their interests are more things made out of wood and such, which is not my specialty :).

4. I have been trying to lose weight since I was in college. Really. I'm not fat, but since I've had babies, it's been practically near impossible for me to lose the weight I gained. I know I could do it with more discipline and effort on my part, but I just never really had much drive, other than looking at myself in a mirror or longingly at the pre-pregnancy clothes I still had in my closet. Since Christmas, I've been making more of an effort and trying to exercise a little more regularly. I am proud to say that I am at my all-time lowest weight since I had Mr. 1-yo! One measly pound away from being where I was when I became pregnant with him! My goal is to drop one pants size by the end of the month and it looks like it may actually be a reality!

5. NaNoCompMo has been a challenge but such a growing experience for me! I really wasn't sure how I was going to make it through even one day without complaining. I wasn't sure what constituted as complaining, but I went straight for it anyway, and with the exception of a few instances, I've been really good and growing so much from it!

6. I love that Mr. 2-yo loves wearing glasses. Since both his daddy and I have been wearing glasses since elementary school, I'm hoping that this love of glasses continues so that should he actually really need them, it won't be a difficult transition. For now, he's happy to wear sunglasses or protection glasses (the kind you use in chem lab) all day, even when he's sick, like today. I need to take a picture.

7. Valentine's Day is coming around the bend and I have to think of something to make my husband. We never really go "all out" for this holiday, but always do something small and generally homemade. I need ideas.

Oh, and go Colts and Saints this Sunday! (Not sure who I'm rooting for yet. I was going for the underdogs - the Saints - since they haven't made it to the Superbowl before this year, but my dad brought up that Peyton Manning is a good Catholic and from UT, the area we used to live, so who knows. The husband suggested we all just sport our Packers gear ;))

(For more Quick Takes, visit ConversionDiary!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's a Girl

Last weekend, I went to a baby "sprinkle" (basically a baby shower but on a somewhat smaller scale) for a friend of mine. We all volunteered to bring something to this celebratory event and I offered to bring the banner. Now, I really love being crafty, but am horrendously bad at finishing projects. When I have a deadline with someone else, it keeps me going so that I actually finish something. So, I made the banner. With having two young boys, it's rare that I am able to use so much pink, so I went a little wild :)! I am not a professional photographer and the light came in through the curtains, but here's a picture of the banner:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Becoming the Best Version of Myself

I am an avid reader and love to read as a way of relaxing after a long hard day. The books I read are not of a widespread variety, but with the few genres I do enjoy, I read as many as I can. My top two favorites would be Christian chic lit and self-help/growing-in-my-faith books. Christian chic lit are those easy reads when I've had a full day of children, housework, and running five million errands. Self-help books (only of the Christian/Catholic variety generally) are there when I want some short, serious reading time.

I have slowly been reading Matthew Kelly's Rediscovering Catholicism over the past couple of months. It takes me a while to read a book when I want to really focus on every single word and take some time to reflect on what I've read. It's worth the long stretches of time for me. With this particular book, I happened to find it in my mom's bookshelf full of children's books from homeschooling and political books that belong to my dad. Since I was familiar with the author and have liked his books in the past, I picked it up to just poke through it. Once I began, I was hooked. Around this same time, I went to visit a good friend who lives on the other side of the state. She happened to have listened to a talk on CD that Matthew Kelly gave about "becoming the best version of yourself," and couldn't stop telling me about how wonderful it was and how I should listen to it.

Isn't it funny when God seems to give you a nudge? In his Rediscovering Catholicism, Matthew Kelly talks about "becoming the best version of yourself." He talks about how saints became saints because they strove for this goal. And isn't that our ultimate goal? Like the Litany of Humility states, we pray that others become holier than me provided I become as holy as I should. We should be on that road of constantly striving for holiness, of being as close to Christ as we can become. That, tied with No Complaining Month, really set me thinking about this. Matthew Kelly says that when we do anything, we should be asking ourselves, "Will this help me in my goal of becoming the best version of myself?" and if the answer is "yes" then we should act. If the answer is "no" we probably should find an action that will. While suppressing the urge to complain over the past couple of days, that question has been popping into my head. I have found myself not only accomplishing a little bit more because I can't waste the time whining or finding excuses not to do something, but also diverting my attention from time-wasters to working on things like making dinner a little extra special for my tired husband who works hard all day or playing a few more minutes with the boys, when I usually would go find something to do on my own. I know laziness is a vice that I tend to act out in abundance and I know that it is one of many, many things that prevents me from growing in my walk with God. I pray that I can keep this up and that this question is always a conscious question I ask myself when faced with decisions, whether they be seemingly inconsequential or essential to living. Only then can I keep moving towards becoming the best version of myself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Is NaNoCompMo!

And what is that you ask? Well, you should check it out at Homeschooling with Joy's blog!

NaNoCompMo stands for National No Complaining Month and it is a challenge I desperately need in my life. So, from here to March 1st, I am making the heartfelt attempt to not complain. I will let you know how this goes and I challenge you to take part in NaNoCompMo as well! :) God bless!