Friday, January 27, 2012
These pics of Eli enjoying a snack while watching one of his favorite PBS shows (Curious George I believe) pretty much summarizes our last two weeks. Eli I are still sick. Still. Ironically Eli went for his "well child" checkup a few days ago right about the time he took another turn for the worse. He sounded just awful that day and sure enough the doctor confirmed that he had a lot of junk in his chest- so much that his oxygen levels were at 94%- no good. Generally you want oxygen levels to be between 100%-98% and at around 90% (I believe) is where you would need supplemental oxygen. So, Eli was somewhere in the middle (not needing to be hospitalized, but not good). Thankfully he responds very well to his nebulizer treatments and we have been doing them daily ever since. He is thankfully already sounding much better but Eli and I just can't quite seem to shake this darn virus. And thus there has been a lot of laying around and watching train videos and Curious George (and he is mostly in pretty good spirits as you can see)! We sure would appreciate your prayers that we might get well very soon.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Some of you might remember that last summer my big toenail was ripped off while playing with the kids- it was horrible! Well, ever since then the nail has been growing back pretty nicely until a few weeks ago. Now the nail is ingrown and it got quite bad while I was away at our winter conference. I waited until I got back to have it taken care of so that I could see my doctor and by that time it was pretty badly infected. I'll spare you the details, but it's not a pretty picture. I've been on antibiotics for about 10 days now and the doctor is just waiting until all the swelling is down to determine whether they will have to remove the whole nail to fix the problem (please pray that it doesn't come to this- I have no desire for the pain or the expense)! So there's that....then a little over a week ago all four of us got sick with a nasty cold/flu/virus like thing. It started with Lily (and apparently a third of the other kids in her class) and spread to the rest of us. The big bummer was that Joe was in Florida during all of last week while we were all sick. It's not very common for him to leave us for that long, but he had some important meetings there for our Lifelines ministry (which went incredibly well, by the way)! While I'm thrilled that the meetings went so well it was really hard being home alone with two sick kids while feeling quite sick myself. Joe's mom came up to help for two days and that was an incredible blessing (and allowed me a little extra rest) and the rest of the week I just muddled through (and watched a lot of PBS with the kids)! Thankfully Joe is back and most everyone is on the mend though they are still a bit worn out with coughs and runny noses. I, on the other hand, am not fairing quite as well. There was a day or two in there where I thought I was getting a bit better, but now it's worse again. In fact, about an hour after Joe got home my ear promptly filled up and became very painful- and I woke the next day to a very congested right side of my face. I was certain I had a sinus infection and while I still think there might be some of that going on the doctor tells me that I actually have a nasty ear infection. Did you know that adults can get ear infections? Well, they can- and I have a doosy. So now I'm on a much stronger antibiotic that will hopefully knock out everything. In the meantime I am quite literally a walking head to toe infection. Good times.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
With the cold, snow less winter upon us we have rediscovered our love for bowling! Seriously though, did you know that I "won" our first date beating Joe at bowling? It's a true story, but I'll save that for another time!:) Somehow though we didn't bowl at all last winter so this outing was Eli's very first time bowling! And he loved it. He started off wildly tossing the ball down the alley, but after a while took a totally different approach and started rolling it incredibly gently (as in it would take 3 minutes to make it all the way down)!:) Either was he was pretty adorable. And Lily might have loved it even more (and yes, you might be able to tell from the last picture that she did technically beat me)! It wasn't really my best game, but it was hard not to have fun with Lily jumping for joy with nearly every pin she knocked over! And after this outing we also decided to spend our New Years Eve bowling (and we were literally the only ones there). Happy Bowling!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
It has been a crazy "winter" here! We had snow for Halloween and snow for Thanksgiving and then barely eeked out a few inches just in time for a white Christmas. Much of December was quite warm. In fact, towards the beginning of December we took the kids canoeing- yes, canoeing in December! Actually it was a really wonderful morning canoeing in an amazing place that Joe found where we saw about 7 seven beaver lodges, a couple of sea otters swimming (from a distance) and even found wild cranberries! We all tasted some of the raw, wild cranberries and they were incredibly tart. Joe, Lily and I ended up spitting ours out, but not Eli...he kept popping one after the other in his mouth!
And these pictures were taken just a day or two after our canoeing trip...yes, it was December and the kids were splashing in puddles in the back yard- crazy! It seemed sort of novel at the time, but now the lack of snow is really getting to me. Because it has gotten cold and cold without snow is just sad. We have just the slightest bit of white covering the ground right now, but not really even enough to make a poor little snowman. That's right, no snowmen, snow forts, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or snowmobiling (with Joe's dad's snowmobiles) like we had been looking forward to this winter. The cold with lack of snow has made for incredible ice skating, but that's it. Please, please, please let it snow!
Friday, January 13, 2012
The new year is upon us! And with this new year comes a new budget for our family. We are in full time ministry and thanks to many individuals, families, and churches who support our ministry financially we make a modest income. And because so many give to us we are often pretty conscious of how we spend our money. But truth be told we spent too much money last year (and probably in many of the years before that)! Now, we don't spend more money than we make and we aren't in debt (other than our mortgage and one car payment)- but we aren't really saving any money. So basically we are living paycheck to paycheck and we aren't setting ourselves, or our children, up well for the future. And is has to change. So Joe took a good, realistic look at our finances and made a new budget for our family. And most importantly we are having the money we need to be saving (which isn't as much as we would like, but it's a start) taken out of our account automatically every month so that we aren't tempted to spend it!:) But this means that we have to be SERIOUS about our budget and stick to it- and that's what we've been doing since January 1st.
Truth be told I'm torn about how I feel about this. I don't really enjoy having to cut back and I don't like thinking about money so often. And there have already been sacrifices (not for anything I need- just wants). But on the other hand it feels good. If feels good knowing that we are doing the best thing for our family, our future, and to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us. I also have to admit that I sort of like the challenge!:)
And on that note...I'm wondering if some of you might join with me in this challenge. Not only do I need to stick to our budget, but I want to do better than that! I want to save even more money so that we can be freed up to give to others more and to have a little fun with our family along the way! So, I'm taking action and I'm looking for lots of ways, big and small, to stretch our budget (and maybe help a few others do the same along the way)! So throughout this year I'm going to be sharing here the things that our family are doing to save money. And I would LOVE your help with this.
So, the first area that I am targeting to save money in is LAUNDRY. Now I know that this isn't something huge, but I really think that lots of small things in lots of areas will add up. So...if you have any tips or advice for saving money on laundry please post a comment in this post or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). And in a week or two I'll post all of the best tips I've found (and hopefully some of them that we have started to use)! And on that note it's time to go fold some laundry!:)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I generally feel like we live in a pretty safe area...except every now and then I am reminded that while we have all been safe physically we can not say the same for some of our things. You may remember a few years back (the summer before we had Lily) when someone broke into our car and stole my purse, our pillows, and used our Campus Crusade for Christ credit card to buy internet porn. One of the most bizarre things and yet oh so true. I think I need to tell the whole story sometime because it got even stranger. But moving on to more recent crimes...this fall we had something else stolen from our yard...the big red ball pictured here with Eli (about a week before it was taken). The giant red ball belonged to the ministry technically and Joe used it for an outreach with guys on campus called Bloodball. That thing was HUGE and pretty awesome. So one day this fall we blew it up in the backyard for my playgroup (it was the first time we really even let our kids play with it). It was a blast and we left it in the yard for about a week- because we weren't worried at all that someone would run off with it. Oh, but we should have been. Because someone did. Yep, giant red ball stolen from our yard!! Try reporting that one to the cops (but we did since it was worth about $400). I thought for sure someone would find it (because how do you hide something that big?) but alas we have never seen it again. In my opinion this crime was just LOW. Seriously, someone was sad enough to steal what appeared to be nothing more than a very cool toy that belonged to my children. They stole from my CHILDREN!!! OK, technically they stole from our ministry (maybe that's even worse). And just when I had forgotten about that....I had another rude awakening this morning. For Christmas a supporter of our ministry gave us a special personal financial gift and we were saving the money to buy our kids a pass to our local children's museum (which I've really been wanting to do for a bit now). I also had Christmas money from Joe's parents that I was saving to buy new dishes. Joe cashed the checks recently and we foolishly left the cash in our van. We always lock our cars at night, but for some reason that just didn't happen last night. And this morning as the kids and I were loading into the van to head to the children's museum (to buy the long awaited pass) I discovered that the money was gone. I was hopeful that Joe moved it. Not only didn't Joe move it, but he also happened to find an empty bank envelope laying on the driveway outside our van this morning. Yep, $140 in cash- STOLEN!!! Say it with me....uggggghhhhh!
Oh my, was I angry...I wanted to hurt someone. I was really looking forward to having new dishes. And I can't even believe that someone essentially stole something from my kids AGAIN! I promptly drove right to the children's museum and purchased the pass anyway...partially because my kids were so looking forward to it and I just couldn't disappoint them (and we were already loaded in the van, bags packed, and lunches made) and partially because I just refused to let the people who took our money win. It's going to take some financial juggling, but I think it will be okay. The dishes on the other hand will have to wait until my birthday (or maybe I'll start buying one a month)!:)
Anyway...I was ANGRY...remember that I wanted to hurt someone. And then as I watched my kids play at the museum (the actual moment was while they were pretending to garden and harvest vegetables) I began to feel God soften my heart. And as we drove home God began to gently remind me that I need to CHOOSE joy (this could be my life theme I think). I need to choose joy...when I'm faced with loss, when my day to day is not going as I planned, when evil seems to prevail....because evil will NEVER prevail in the end....because in light of eternity $140 will mean nothing...nothing. And right there is the car God enabled me to choose joy instead of bitterness and even gave me the strength to thank Him for the morning and to pray for the very seem people I wanted to harm a few hours earlier. And that's when it hit me...God is changing me. I have oh so far to go, but slowly God is changing me...and this has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Him.
So, while the police can't really do much to help us (we did report it just to be safe) I know that it will be okay, because I have HOPE (and there is no amount of cash that can buy that).
Monday, January 9, 2012
Our Christmas was wonderful! It really did sort of feel like a celebration all month long, but the last three days were especially festive!
On Christmas Eve Eve we spent the morning celebrating Christmas with my parents over Skype (though I forgot to take pictures)- it just one of those times when I am so thankful for modern technology! And the rest of the day we spent really focusing on Christ and throwing Him a special birthday party.
This year our birthday present to Jesus was pretty special to us. We decided to sponsor a little girl named Jenifer in Peru. We'll share lots more about her soon! After we picked out Jesus' present Lily and I decorated the kitchen for a special birthday dinner and we ate by the light of candles and twinkling lights!
And of course there had to be birthday cake!
We started with a dark chocolate cake and talked about how on our own our hearts are dark and sinful. And then we poured white chocolate over the cake and talked about how the love and forgiveness of Jesus has poured over our lives and has made our hearts clean and whole.
And after the party and after Eli was in bed Joe, Lily, and I stayed up and read, "An Angel Story" by Max Lucado...all about the birth of Christ from a heavenly perspective (and Lily made it through the whole book for the first time)!
And Christmas Eve was also really fun with many of our favroite traditions... throwing out food for the reindeer, delicious appetizer foods for diner, Christmas Eve service at church (my favoite), discovering Santa's sack when we retruned from church (full of new pajamas)...
And then Joe and I got to play Santa (also one of my favorite parts of Christmas)!
We cleaned and made everything feel magical and got the special gifts ready...
Including this fantastic sensory table that Joe built for the kids...
And this amazing teepee that my mom,Joe, and I made for them!
And I just LOVE Christmas Eve when everything is out and glowing!
And I completed our Christmas tree with our homemade family ornament for the year...to remember our special little girl.
And then Christmas morning came and Joe actually had to wake Lily up (apparently our two previous days of celebrating wore her out)!:)
But soon their faces lit up when they saw the teepee!
And Strawberry Shortcake Dolls and puzzles from Santa!
And they LOVED the sensory table and played with it for quite a while that morning!
And we finally got around to stockings...
And yes, those are toothbrushes that Lily is hugging with glee (my kids have a real love for brushing their teeth)!:)
And Joe bought each of the kids their own log cabin kit (made in the USA- which we love).
And Lily's big individual gift from us was a CAMERA! You better believe I was pretty excited when she asked for this earlier in the season. Oh how fun to have another photographer in the family!
And Eli's big individual gift was this basketball hoop and it was a huge hit with our little sports lover!
And after all of the stockings and gifts were opened and we enjoyed some delicious scones and fruit we cleaned up and got ready and PLAYED!
And although I don't have any pictures to show it we spent the rest of Christmas down with Joe's family just enjoying some great food and being together and a few fantastic presents and throwing parachute men off of the loft stairs. It really was a wonderful Christmas. And I am oh so thankful that the stomach flu waited until just after dessert on Christmas evening to strike me down. While I was too sick to enjoy the Packer game that evening I felt great for all of the most important parts of Christmas. Happy Birthday Jesus- we had a wonderful time celebrating your birth!