Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cracking some NUTS

I heard someone once use NUTS as an acronym for Nagging Unfinished TaskS - as in, those are the things driving us NUTS! I liked it and it has stuck with me.

So, this week (between naps to try to get rid of this crud), I am tackling some NUTS and boy, does it feel great!

I know Miss Manners would NOT approve, but I finally did official written thank-you notes to the amazing brick crew that helped us out ... in May of 2009. We thanked them verbally and also here on the blog, but I also wanted to write them a quick thank you. (completely blew it on the quick part) I do have one more to write to the company thanking them for their extreme generosity, so that one is still on my to-do list.

I have caught up on my home school records for this year - whew! I know it is easier to just keep them up as I go along, so hopefully I will have the discipline to do so. I also have a goal of laying out the first couple of weeks of school for the new year, so the kids have an idea of what is coming. I know what I plan to do, but I think it will be very helpful for all of us to know.

This week, I also want/need to clean out the basement bathroom area. It has kind of become a catch-all for stuff that we don't know where to put and it is a disaster. We have guests coming to visit and it is time to clean it up.

So, now I am a little less nuts :) Hee!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White Christmas 2010!

How was your Christmas? We had a WHITE Christmas this year – which is very amazing for Alabama. Absolutely loved watching it fall. I even had to force myself to not include a video of the snow falling (since most people have seen snow fall)! You’re welcome.

The downside of our Christmas day was that 3 out of 4 of us were sick. John has managed to keep fighting it and has not come down with anything … yet.

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The kids managed enough energy to open presents, but were then wiped out for the afternoon. Poor things. Savannah’s sickness was particularly frustrating because it kept coming and going. Just when I thought it was bad enough to take her to the doctor, she would be fine only to relapse again the next day. Finally, she seems to be good for 2 whole days in a row.

Here are some shots of our pretty snow.

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The snow is normally very wet in Alabama, so it sticks to the pine trees. It looks like a winter wonderland and is absolutely beautiful. After it snowed, it turned pretty cold, so we still have snow on the ground in some places. It is supposed to warm up and then rain tomorrow morning, so I am sure that will be the end of it. LOVED it while it lasted.

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wise men still seek Him ...

Merry Christmas to each of you! May He be glorified in our hearts!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some funnies

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Lilly's behavior cracks me up every time. Now that we have 3 dogs vying for food, she has started carrying off her "dish" so she doesn't have to share. yes, that is a coffee container - our cute matching ceramic dog dishes didn't stand a chance up here :)

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On our walk the other morning, I found this HUGE leaf! I had the kids pose with it - if you look closely, you can see their eyes peeping through the holes.


Monday, December 20, 2010

What I'm pondering ...

I have seen this verse twice within a weeks time and it is one of those 'jumpers'.
Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

I have been bugged this Christmas at what Christmas has become in America. Commercials on tv drive me absolutely crazy. It's not enough that they bombard us with stuff to buy, but it is the "manner" in which they try to sell this stuff to us. The commercials are stupid, downright racy, and annoying. And, please don't get me started on the drug commercials because we could get stuck there a while.

Also, I went shopping last Saturday and that didn't help matters :) Because of the tremendous amount of traffic in and around the stores, I couldn't get to where I needed to go. Yes, I realize that the last Saturday before Christmas is probably about the worst day to try shopping, but I had anticipated the worst so I was prepared. Or so I thought.

I also saw where someone wrote (and I'm paraphrasing) "Christmas is not just about Jesus - it's about the kids, too. Kids should have a happy Christmas and that's all I'm trying to give them."

Really? I don't agree. Isn't Christmas about what we have already received? Isn't it about what God has done for us through sending Jesus? Isn't it ALL about Jesus, or if not, shouldn't it be?

This verse gets a lot more interesting when I looked at the prior couple of verses:
Jeremiah 2:11-13
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the LORD.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Read those again, paying attention to what these verses are saying. "my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols."

I have to ask myself - where I am exchanging God for worthless idols? Where am I digging my own cistern and not receiving from the spring of living water?

I am not trying to be Scrooge or the Grinch, but I am trying to readjust my thinking to what Christmas really is and why we celebrate. I want us to train our children well. I want to enjoy this glorious season and remember the true reason that He came.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birthday fun

We had a birthday celebration in our house yesterday – Savannah turned 10!!! She had a fun day starting with presents and ending with cake and ice cream!

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Believe it or not, we do actually have wrapping paper – she chose newspaper because Hadden had newspaper :) Daddy did all of the legwork and research for her present and she LOVES it!

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She loves to do anything crafty or creative, so he thought a sewing machine would be a good choice for her. I agreed! She has been using it at every spare opportunity since yesterday :)

Daddy then cut a cute heart in the cake and served it to her. Wisely, she split it with her brother.

Ok – now we can start shopping for Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Honey Dids!

As in, my honey did these! I must say, however, that I don’t have to make honey-do lists. If anything, he needs to make them for me :)

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Vertical blinds!!! These have actually been completed for quite some time and I’ve got to brag on my hubby a little – he saved us a LOT of money on these. None of the stores had the exact dimensions for our openings, so in order to get them “boxed” to fit, we would have to order them custom and that would have been expensive (think $70+ per opening). John found these at Wally Mart for about $20/box. And he modified them to fit our openings!! I was and am very impressed. He made how-to videos here and here in case you have a need to do something similar.

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Also, this week, he has been installing horizontal blinds on the windows. As the sun has moved lower in the sky during the winter, we have areas in the house where it is difficult to work during the day because of the glare. The office and the home school area are the most affected, so he went ahead and did blinds. Although we would have preferred something more updated with a nicer design, the budget doesn’t allow it at this time. In fact, we were able to get gift cards for the big box store with the credit card points we had acquired while building the house, so these really didn’t cost us anything extra :)

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Any idea what this is? John recently made 2 of them (because more must be better :). This is our tv antenna! John found the design on the internet and decided to try it and it works! We don’t watch a lot of tv, but it is fun to have some options when we do :)

He has also been working on the cap for the well head.

He has also been doing prep work to finish up the top edge of the house.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas tree update

A couple of people asked questions about the tree, so I thought I would just write a quick post.

How did we get it back home?
It was actually pretty easy. The cedar trees that we have on our property grow fairly tall and thin and the trunk is pretty slim. The trunk on ours is probably about 4" diameter. We cut it down fairly close to the house and close to the trails, so we just carried it. The trickiest part was trying not to step on the branches!

How many lights did you use?
Well - I like a LOT of lights, but most of my strings of lights are still in the box. Stringing them was pretty challenging - I just kind of walked around the tree going up and down stairs. If you look at this picture, you can kind of tell that the lights are spiraling and I didn't want the tree to look like a giant candy cane!



I did add white lights to the garland on the stair railing in order to bring in more lights.

Thanks for all of your fun comments (both here and other places). We are enjoying the tree and it is so nice that it is not in the way. I don't know about you, but as much as I love Christmas and the decorations, I am ready to have them out on Dec 26th - I think a lot of that has to do with the tree being in the way. We'll see how I am this year :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

As random as it gets

We will be soon heading down south for our annual We Care Christmas banquet. Needless to say, Savannah is very excited. A couple of weeks ago (yes, weeks), the kids kept running out of clothes to wear – strangest thing. I knew I had just done laundry, so it wasn’t possible to already be out. When I questioned them about it, they said that they were already packed for the Christmas party trip! I think I drive them crazy because I pack (at the very earliest), the day before we go. So, as a workable solution, I had them make detailed lists of what they wanted to take. I also told them that they weren’t allowed to pack clothing until 2-3 days ahead of time.

So, this sign on the chalkboard cracked me up – T-5 countdown and packing schedule!!

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I wanted to make monster cookies the other night (oatmeal, peanut butter, choc chips and M&M’s!), so I asked John to grab some at the store while he was there getting milk. He wanted to open them when he got home, but I protested that they would not make it to the cookies, then. (because I would eat them). His solution?

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He gave me a not-so-subtle reminder! Yes, him. (don’t let the innocent look fool you)

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And, at long last … our little Christmas village! My Mom bought these little unpainted houses for me *several* years ago – I loved them so much, I bought little lights, people, road, trees, etc to go with them. Well, it turns out that these little houses are harder to paint than it might seem, so I did parts of two until this year. (One year, I put the unpainted houses up anyway!) This year, the kids helped me to paint most of the remaining houses (one is still not completely finished). We had a blast. John got us set up with the power for the lights and voila! Now, I need to send a picture to my Mom :)

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First is with the flash, but it floods out the little lights. The street lights are all battery-powered. The next picture is without a flash, so you can see the “street” lights.

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We have also been inspired by several different sources to do a “Jesse tree” during the Advent season. Each day, we read Bible verses about specific people in the lineage of Jesus. It has been really neat. For some of the days, I have coloring squares for them to color and other days, I just have the one from the material that I found online.  We are all enjoying it.

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Bloglines is back! I like it better than Feed Reader, so I have switched back.

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Psalm 33:13-15 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all humankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One year ago today ...

We woke up in the house!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

19’ foot tree and other happenings

We selfishly enjoyed Thanksgiving at home this year since it was the first time we had a real kitchen in 3 years. Boy, was it tasty!

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Some lego creating happened. They sort and organize all of the different sizes and colors – isn’t that cute? :)

And, then, we set out to find the Christmas tree. Fun stuff – WAY better than going to Lowe’s! So, as we were heading out, John asked me where I wanted to go (he meant “which way”), so I said, “Lowe’s” and we had a good laugh. I was only half kidding – hahaha (see previous post for that to make any sense). Fairly quickly after setting out, we discovered a cedar tree that would work, but I suggested that we head down towards the deer stand to see if there were any other options. Turns out that instead of just a tree hunting expedition, we were now in for an adventure. We hiked and discovered whole new areas of our property that I have never seen, in fact. Although I was not altogether thrilled to be side-tracked from our original mission (and also that I really no longer believed that we would actually be *getting* a tree from this far away), I have to admit that it was fun.

You see, I’m all about the expectation – I was expecting to go find and get a tree. John, on the other hand, is all about the adventure of getting a tree. So, after traversing the entire property, we ended up going back to the original tree, cutting it down and bringing it in. And, I really like it!

It’s IN the stairwell – it’s 19’’ tall. I think that is pretty cool, indeed. However, the only thing harder than photographing a 19’ tree in your stairwell … is decorating it! Hee! There are whole areas that were just kind of hard to get to, so they aren’t as ornamented as the areas easier to reach. The kids helped me decorate it yesterday and we had a blast going through all of the ornaments – some that we haven’t even seen in 3 years!

(ps – our tree topper star is way too heavy for this cedar, so we are thinking of a plan b)

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View from the top landing – where the rug is is the main level.

Oh, and John, I’ll be happy to adventure with you anytime. Your extra effort always pays off and this tree is more than I could have imagined. You da best!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas tree

***Update*** - My honey does it right! We now have a 19' Christmas tree in our stairwell - whoo hoo!!! ***

Now back to the previously posted message ...

Later today, we are hoping to go find a Christmas tree. For the past 3 years, we have been just sort of "winging it" with Christmas trees. The first 2 years, we were in the camper, and just had a teeny one. Last year, we were SO incredibly busy with the house, we didn't have a tree at all (except for a last minute effort at having some little ones).

I really enjoy Christmas decorations and especially a nice, full tree. I think it has something to do with opening up the box(es) of ornaments and remembering something about each one. Just the nostalgia and tradition of decorating the tree both enjoying time with my current family and remembering times with my family growing up. Good times.

Anyway - I have been looking forward to having a "real" tree for a while now. So we were out hiking recently and were talking about Christmas trees. I threw out the idea of wanting a nice, full one since the house is finished, but in order to get a really full tree, we would have to buy one. John responded with "we have over 100,000 pine trees and you want to *buy* a Christmas tree?" We had a good laugh. Obviously, he is right, but the trees that we have on our property make Charlie Brown's tree shine :) So, now we have a challenge to be realistic (ie - not buy one) *and* make it look nice.

I have some ideas ... I'll let you know how it goes :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Before and After

Here is my latest little project.

I don’t like clutter – stuff just out in the open and visible. Drives me batty. (At times, you would never be able to tell because our clutter does get out of hand!) So, ever since we moved into the upstairs, the stereo “system” bugged me. We had looked and looked for a right piece to go there, but never really found what we were looking for.

Fast forward to two weeks ago … this old cabinet of John’s (shown only in part below), was kind of an odd, yellowish stain color. Not only did it not match, but it wasn’t being fully utilized. I wanted to paint it black and finally found the time to do it. When John saw that I was improving it, he suggested we use it for the stereo cabinet (its original purpose). Great idea!

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So – here are the before pictures. Stereo cabinet with components, wires, remotes and “stuff” visible. Yuck!  Here is the cabinet waiting to be primed – I lightly sanded it all over before applying primer. This is just the base, it also has front and back doors and a lid. After priming, I rolled on 2 coats of black paint. (btw: the black was the darkest I could find, but it does appear slightly gray/black instead of a true black)

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Voila – here’s the after. Same stuff, but now behind a door. Yippee!

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MUCH better – I still need to figure out something better to sit on the sub woofer (where the candle is sitting), but at least the wires and remotes are concealed.

Next … I have an old armoire that I want to transform. The office is in desperate need of some attention, and since the armoire is currently concealing my computer and printer, it should help to have it refinished.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random

We are still enjoying an extended fall with beautiful weather (although yesterday and today were rainy), which makes getting work done challenging. We would rather just play outside and enjoy the weather!

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Our cover school (for homeschooling) recently had a missions fair project. We chose to study Tanzania (where our Compassion children live). Here is our display board. Please ignore the background mess :) The children were able to do a presentation in front of the group, also, but ours declined for this year. If we do it again next year, they will be “required” by their teacher to present :)

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Last Thursday, we went to downtown Birmingham for the Veteran’s Day parade with some friends. After the parade, we were walking the streets (in desperate search of coffee for the Moms :), when a man carrying 2 big bunches of balloons approached us and gave them to the children. We had fun untangling the ribbons and also trying to transport them – on the elevator and in the vehicles. Good memories!

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This morning, there was a faint rainbow across our valley – beautiful!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy hikers and a rant …

We are thoroughly enjoying the beautiful fall weather here – so much so that it is hard to get any work done :) Last Sunday after church, we went for a favorite hike through our property and onto Chimney Rock. Such fun!

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Happy John on the lion head rock. Kids having fun searching for treasures.

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Neli is getting SO big! Mercy’s first time to flattop rock – she was exceptionally happy. (Lilly was along, too, but she was busy on an adventure).

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The sun was at just the right spot and made the rocks and shadows so vibrant. And, me on the lion head rock.

We love this time of year – with the weather cooler, at least the threat of snakes seems less. Looking forward to many more hikes this fall.

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And, for my rant … I think my frustration peaked with the political ad phone calls, both receiving them myself and hearing how many other people were also receiving. At one point, both of our cell phones were ringing simultaneously with a political ad. Ugh!

But even before those phone calls, I have noticed an increased “demanding” of people wanting to get my money from me in one shape or another. Here are some examples and see if you have also experienced them:

- Walking through a mall (any mall) and someone constantly jumping in my face with a perfume sample, hand lotion sample, whatever. Politely saying ‘no thank you’ to the first one doesn’t give the second, third or fourth a clue that I may not be interested. Drives me crazy!

- On every Saturday at Wal Mart, some group is stationed outside every.single.door soliciting for money. One week, it’s the cheerleader tots group raising money for uniforms, the next it is the fire department. This last week, it was another group selling tootsie rolls for kids. Honestly, I am going to stop going to Wal Mart on Saturday because it’s just TOO much! (I don’t normally carry cash, so I usually have an out)

- The other day, in the grocery store, I ran in to buy dishwasher soap – a $5 item. I had intended this to be a very quick, in and out, trip. The clerk asked if I wanted to donate $5 to feed the homeless this Christmas. (How convenient – now you can just add it on to my order. They have caught on to my “no cash” gig)

- The phone calls from police and fire wanting donations. I like to support the police and fire, but these calls are often for something obscure and strange like “college fund for their children” (ok, I’m exaggerating, but it is never just directly for the police or fire company).

Please don’t misunderstand, I desire to be a giving person and not a scrooge or a grinch, but I like the opportunity to give where I want to give. I like to know that I am truly giving to an organization that has credibility (I’m not saying that none of the above do, it’s just that I would like the opportunity to investigate). I like to be able to freely walk and/or shop at a business and not be BOMBARDED at every step. It’s frustrating!

Where is the “Do Not Bother Me” list and how can I sign up? :)

However the key, for me, is to be gracious and kind even though I am frustrated:

Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mums

Do you notice anything wrong with these mums?PA210018

Here’s another look … PA210019

Anything?

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Me either. I think they are beautiful. However, when I bought them, I got a $5 discount! I find the story cute – the lady selling the mums quoted us one price and when I started to pay her, she said “ope no – I think the one side is white flowers, so I’ll give it to you for less”. Now, that’s driving a hard bargain, right there! I did appreciate her honesty and integrity, however, as the flowers weren’t as she thought they should be.

I like them just the way they are and actually like the variety that the white adds :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Visit

We had a wonderful visit from John’s Dad and wife, Beulah. The weather was a little hot at times, but overall beautiful.

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We ran them ragged with soccer and baseball, but they didn’t complain. Savannah had a soccer tournament over the weekend, so we had 2 extra games in addition to her regular season game. Savannah played very well her last game, even though they lost. Hadden had 2 practices and a game while they were here. He played a very good game and even got a home run and received a game ball.

During the week, we drove up toLake Guntersville to see replicas of the Nina and the PiƱta that are here for a short stop. The kids even got to meet Columbus while we toured the ships. Let me just say that the ships are amazingly small and I would not have wanted to be out on the open ocean in one!

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In front of the Nina; all of us at Lake Guntersville (not such of a great shot); emu at the water treatment plant.

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For Luke – here is a plate from Alaska :) We saw it at Lake Guntersville while viewing the ships. :)

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A friend recommended a book for art – and I absolutely love it so far! The book introduces an artist, tells a little bit about them, and then the kids get to try doing a similar type of art. And it was fun!

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Today our artist was Vincent van Gogh, and here they are hard at work.

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Voila! Finished products. This is a really big step for Hadden, as he does not like to do art – at all. He even admitted that this was “kind of fun”. Savannah on the other hand absolutely loves art. They like to be as opposite as possible, at all times possible :)