Thursday, December 31, 2009

6 years ago today...



Six years ago today I was just a girl with stars in her eyes,


and you were the man of my dreams.


Six years ago today I put on a white gown,


and you put on a stunning tuxedo,


and I mixed up the strap on my left shoe.


Six years ago today we walked down the aisle,


promised to be there for better or for worse,


and we kissed,


and we kissed,


and we kissed!


We were thrilled that after six months of dating and two weeks of engagement we were finally married! (haha!)


and then we made our escape!


We hopped in the town car and started the adventure of our lives- just the two of us!

Now, six years later, it isn't just the two of us anymore- we have two more in tow!  Now we have seen the better and the worse, we have weathered the trials, we have felt the most incredible joys, and we are still here- together.

Everyday I think I learn a little bit more of why we were meant to be together.  We have both learned and grown so much over the last six years and although not all of it has been pretty, and we still have a long way to go, I can't think of anyone else I would rather spend it with than you.

I love you more than words can say!  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for is in our 7th year and all the years beyond that!


Happy Anniversary Jer!
I will love you forever and always!!

Love,
Your Kenz!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Erg- I've hit a wall!

I'm exhausted!  Emotionally, physically- you name it, I'm there!  I have been planning my little buns off to get ready for the new year and today I just don't have it in me. 

My house is still in desperate need of after-Christmas cleaning- the decorations are down but there are toys and boxes galore!  I am behind on dishes and laundry, and I still have a fair bit of planning to do before 2010 actually hits!  I have people to call and e-mail, meals to plan, blog posts to write, and I just feel like there isn't enough of me.  Not today anyway.

Tomorrow right?  Tomorrow will be better.  I will do what I can today and do more tomorrow.

Maybe I just need to put on some good music.  And make some cranberry juice.  And grab a handful of almonds.  Yeah- I think I'll try that.

And tonight, as soon as the littlest one is in bed you can be sure where I'll be- in the bath!  Yup, I think that all sounds good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do You Hear That?

Shhhhh- listen! 

I don't really remember what they call it... maybe something like... quiet

Yes, I do believe that's it! 

By miracle of all miracles my crawling 6-month-old is playing quietly on the floor with trucks and his big brother is quietly watching a cartoon. 

Mmmmmm.... 
let me savor it...
it won't last long. 

Oh, yup, there it goes...
gone. 

Hey, it was nice while it lasted!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Terrible Twos?

Whoever coined the phrase "the terrible twos" had clearly never met a three year old, or at least none of the ones I know!  Sheesh!  As I battled my 3 1/2 year old today (again) about 1- leaving a friend's house and 2- saying thank you, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed and somewhat helpless.  Oh, and did I mention humiliated and exasperated?

How do you reason with these little people?  I feel as though I have tried every trick in the book, every form of punishment, every way to possibly get through to him, and I am left with the same defiant preschooler on my hands.  He balks in the face of consistency and challenges the author of every parenting book ever written!  His stone cold determination to not bend to my requests puts even the best politician to shame!

Frustration aside, I know he was overdue for his nap and hates abrupt change.  How then do you draw the line between just acting out from being tired and blatantly acting out in ways he clearly knows better than?  On the one hand I take comfort in the fact that he will not be a child (or teen) who easily bends to pressures (a born leader) but on the other hand I am faced with the incredibly challenging dilemma of being in charge of shaping the mind, will and heart of a child who, at times, is seemingly made of iron.

In general he is a good boy.  It is just these everyday challenges that I know I can't let him win, the battles that I know will mold his ideas on respecting authority and therefore must be won so that we are not waging the same battle when he is 8, or 11, or 15- these are what currently suck the life out of me!

He finally collapsed into bed for his much needed nap and I ran for the hidden bag of chocolate in my kitchen.  Now I am faced with the fact that this particular battle is sadly long from over.  Tonight will be one of those nights that he does have daddy to deal with (thank the Lord for cell phones!  "Honey, you hear that?  Yes, it really is that bad!).  Yet as he sullenly follows his father into the office for his due punishment, I know that my heart will break.  Perhaps it isn't easy being three and learning these life lessons.  I know I am not a huge fan of the lessons my heavenly Father is seemingly constantly doling out for me, but they are no less important or essential.

So Jesus,
Please pour out your grace on my little family tonight.  Help us all to have the hearts to do Your will and not our own.  Help us to learn from discipline and walk away changed.  Help us to have self-discipline so we can stop repeating these lessons!  Thank you for your kindness and compassion and please help us be more like You!


So be it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Years Challenges

As I have mentioned in recent posts, I have been trying to decide on what kind of challenge I may possibly want to participate in heading into the new year.  Now yes, I do have a list of goals and resolutions that I am working on and will set out to accomplish starting on that ominous date of January 1 (and will also be posting on soon), but some things I plan to embark on are just so big for me that I think I need to go a step farther and actually create a blogging challenge out of them.  If I declare, right here and right now, that I am going to follow through on these things, my hope is that I actually will!

So, wanna hear what they are?  First, I will be joining the challenge over at Mom's Toolbox to read throuh the Bible in 90 days!  Huge, right?!  I know!  It feels slightly crazy but also like a fantastic way to start my year!  Mom's Toolbox is offering a whole community of support and I think this act of discipline could really help shape my year. 

So, how am I going to come up with all this extra time to digest 12 pages of scripture a day?  Well, I'm glad you asked because that brings me to challenge number two- The Early Bird Challenge!  Yup, it's just how it sounds- I am going to wake up earlier (gasp)!  I know, I know- it's the bain of my existense really to even think about doing this (let alone make a public declaration of commitment to it), but after much consideration and prayer (the latter of which will definitely have to continue in large quantities in order for this to work) I have come to the realization that in order to get organized (and stay that way) and be successful in homeschooling R-Man, I MUST get up before my boys.

Here is what my challenge will officially entail:
I herby challenge myself to wake up each weekday (weekends, holidays and sick days excluded) between 6:00 and 7:00am, throughout the year of 2010.  

This means that my first "official" challenge day will be January 4 since it is the first non-holiday, non-weekend day of the new year.  It may sound simple to some, but this is a TREMENDOUS challenge for me and it is going to take everything in me to go to bed at a time that will allow me to be successful with this challenge, let alone the actual peeling myself out of bed at that hour part! 

I will be blogging all about my journey to health, wealth and wisdom (that is what they say after all, isn't it?!  Ya know- early to bed, early to rise and so on...), and hope you will enjoy the show!  Although I am not actually creating a meme out of this challenge because I really am just doing it for mysef and my family, I would love to have company on this little quest for self-discipline.  So, if you would like, please join me!  We can commiserate and share our struggles, and the blessings the Lord provides as we seek to become the (reluctant) Early Bird!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A few resources you might enjoy...

The other day I mentioned that I am working on my goals for the new year and since then I have found a few wonderful posts that I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to!

First of all, Carisa at 1+1+1=1 recently asked what kind of schedules people keep (or try to) for their homeschooling day and life in general and the outpouring of response she has received in comments has been invaluable!  So, don't just read this post (cause it won't be all that helpful- besides being reassuring that a seasoned homeschool mom has schedule issues!), but actually go and pour over the comments!  I am still working through them and have already gotten soooo many great ideas!

Next- this is a link I found in Carisa's comments and as soon as I went to this blog I was hooked!  It is called Raising Olives and I literally think that I could spend the next week just trying to digest all of the amazing wisdom and information she pours out in her blog!  So good!  I am very happy to add this blog to my reader!  She has got awesome ideas on everything from family worship, to scheduling, to appropriate chores for different ages! A gold mine!

In other thoughts, I watched Julie & Julia last weekend (just be posting that you probably all know what I am about to write), and of course, like any serious female blogger, I couldn't help but be inspired and ready to blog up a storm!  I love that Julie's blog was so focused and vibrant!  And although I am opening a new blogging project at the beginning of the year (as I have been teasing you all for weeks) I still seek greater direction and purpose for this blog! 

I am considering giving myself some sort of challenge- not as lofty as Julie's (since it would never work with these kiddos) but something that would drive me to accomplish and give me fuel to write. I have a few ideas floating around in my head (one that would be totally awesome if a particular company comes through on a review product for me!) but I would love to hear your ideas too!  Jen @ Momma Blogs A Lot also had some ideas on this topic!

That's all for now!  Have a happy weekend!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aloha Friday- Contentment Addition

 An Island Life

Well, it is another week for Aloha Friday over at An Island Life, and this is how she explains her brilliant little meme:
In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link [on her blog]. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

So, my question for you this week is:

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full kind of gal?

To answer my own question, I think I tend to be glass half empty- but I'm working on it!!  I am currently going through this wonderful study on contentment by Linda Dillow called Calm My Anxious Heart. I plan to blog more about it soon (so stay posted), but in the mean time, I highly recommend it for any of you ladies who may be struggling with this!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Christmas Card to All of You!



As I am preparing to send out our Christmas cards I thought I would post one to all of you!  I greatly appreciate all of my readers and consider you my friends!  Thanks for all your support and I am looking forward to bringing you fun new giveaways, how-tos and even a super secret new blog in the coming year! 

Merry Christmas!

New Year Planning

So, are any of you beginning to think of things you want to accomplish in the new year like I am?  I have been considering this topic for quite some time and, as always, feel like I just have so many things I want to change/do with the fresh start of 2010 (and by the way, I am having a hard time getting used to calling it 20-10 instead of 2,010- is anyone else having this hang up?!  Maybe it's just me!).

So far I have in mind to get back on track with FlyLady, establish more of a family schedule/routine (including earlier to bed and earlier to rise- ugh!), be more diligent with our home-preschooling, and more, but I am still working out the details. 

Do any of you have any wisdom to pass on to me?  Or ideas for how to be more successful with all this?  I would love to hear!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I can't believe I won!!

I have won a few things I have entered in bloggy contests but for the most part it is a big zilcho!  This weekend, however, I was shocked and elated to find out that I won an ENTIRE YEAR of Itty Bitty Bookworm curriculum from Homeschool Creations!  EEEEEEEK!!!!  I am sooooo stinkin' excited!!!!

Check out Jolanthe's Blog (she just won a Homeschool Blogging award!  And yes, I voted for her!):



And of course I will be blogging about my win on R-Man's blog as we begin to use the curriculum in January! 

Thanks again Jolanthe- such a huge blessing for a mama who can't afford much of anything right now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

hmmmm, Tuesday already?

So, I didn't mean to take a bloggy break, but a week and a half ago things became utterly crazy!  We went from rarely having anywhere to go or anything to do to having at least one outing every day for EIGHT days!  It was nuts!  Then, as soon as we had a full day at home (well, technically my husband and I were supposed to go on a date that night) both boys came down with colds (hence, canceling date)- so that pretty much did us in for the weekend!

Now, here we are on Tuesday and I am wondering where time went!  To be honest, much of the holiday season will probably look like this on my blog, despite my best efforts.  Many times throughout the day I longing stare at my computer as I hold a screaming baby in my arms, wishing for some quiet alone time!  But let's face it- it's just not happening much these days!  And when I do get a chance to be on the computer I am usually working on Christmas gifts or attempting to catch up on the boy's blogs (a couple weeks behind) and I just have to adhere to some sort of priority list. 

So it is.  I just need to get over it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Treasured" Book Review



Can I just say that I think the cover of this book is simply beautiful!  I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but man, the stunning image wrap on this one sure makes you want to!  Better yet, the inside truly lives up to the beauty of the cover!

This is a wonderful book to use as a devotional.  I have found it to be especially insightful as I have been using it in companion with a Bible study I am doing on contentment.  It helps reinforce the fact that God remembers us, no matter where we are in life and that He treasures us.

This is also highly relevant to my current life circumstances, with my husband nearly completely out of work.  Sometimes the Lord can feel so absent, but you read Treasured and are reminded that He does indeed know what you are going through, and beyond that He has a plan and can be trusted.

I thought that Leigh did a very nice job of incorporating her own applicable life events to bring these classic Bible stories into a modern light and make them seem very tangible.  I especially connected with her recounting of Hagar's story and Noah's as well.  Treasured is beautifully written and I think it would make a fantastic gift to the women in your life this Christmas.

Here is the publisher's summary, if you would like a little bit more insight into the book:
In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love.
            “The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.
            Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers  proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort.
            Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

To purchase your copy of Treasured you can visit Random House.
You can also find out more about Leigh McLeroy on her website.

This book was provided by the publisher for honest review.
To find out more about reviewing books for Waterbrook Press, you can go here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Talk softly...

"MOMMY!!!  I need a napkin!"

The noise I just heard clammer upstairs begins to register.  He spilled his milk.  The very last, eansy bit of (expensive) milk that I had been saving for his breakfast. 


I stop doing the laundry and climb the stairs in frustration. 

"What happened?  Why did you spill it?  How did you do it?  Were you messing around?"

Of course he was messing around!  He is a three-year-old boy!

As I spew out my litany of questions and kneel on the floor to mop up the mess, certain humbling and convicting thoughts begin to enter my mind.

Would Michelle Duggar get this upset over a little spilled milk?  Nope- she would talk softly.  Does it really matter that much?  At least it was in the kitchen and not on the carpet.  Change your tone.  He didn't mean to. 

But he woke up like a whirlwind!  Did someone sneak him a Redbull sometime in the middle of the night?  How can he have this much energy?!  Can't he just sit still for 5 minutes?!  He is already driving me crazy and he has only been awake for an hour!



Just calm down.  He is three!!  You are doing a Bible study on peace and contentment- prove it.

But I was going to do that study right now, while they were both being good and content for that precious half an hour I have every morning!  Now I may not even get a shower!

HEY!  Knock it off!!  Get it together!  This is no way to have peace in your house!!!  Be the example!  STOP and pray- right now!

Jesus?  
Give me patience today.  
Help me stay calm.  
Help me to not use an exclamation point at the end of every sentence (or word) today.  
Help me think of the good things.  
Thank you for my little boys.  
My vibrant, crazy, unique little boys.  
Help me see them as your gift and not my inconvenience.  
Help me to honor you in the way I care for them.  
Help me follow your plan for my day instead of mine.  
And most of all... 
give me GRACE!

Amen!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friend Makin' Mondays- Christmas Survey!



1. Favorite website- OOOO- that is so hard!  Of course I love blogger and my Google Reader!  I also usually hit Facebook a couple times a day, but generally on my iPhone.

2. Favorite color- Pink- but only since I had boys and I think I have to over compensate to have girly things in my life!

3. Facebook?  I am on it, but I generally keep it for IRL friends or people I have gotten to know really well online.  I do have a fan page for Mama Kenz Studio though, right here!

4. Favorite Christmas song?  Another toughy!  I love Carol of the Bells and all the tunes that actually sing about Christ's birth!

5. Christmas tree: Real or fake?  Fake for now, but someday if I have a bigger house I hope to get a giant real one!

6. Hottest celebrity?  Hugh Jackman

7. Favorite restaurant?  The Beach House, on Kauai!

8. Favorite magazine?  I don't read magazines much these days, but Mothering I guess.

9. Favorite thing to drink around the holidays?  Spiced Cider (and lately Hard Cider, but come on- Lion Cub cries A LOT!!!)

10. Favorite Christmas movie.  Tie between Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause!

To join in on Friend Makin' Monday hop over and visit Amber at {ae}Filkins!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Honored Again!

In the couple of months I have received quite a few blog awards that I desperately need to express my thanks for and pass on to others!  In fact, it has been so long since I received a few of these I hope I remember all of them!  I thought that the week of Thanksgiving would probably be a very appropriate time to express my gratitude for all the wonderful love and support my readers show me!  If I miss one, I am terribly sorry!  So, here goes!



From Ruminations of a Twenty-Something Mama I received the Honest Scrap Award!  Here are the rules:
Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

Show the 7 winners' names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were given the "Honest Scrap."

List at least 10 honest things about yourself
So, here is my honest 10:
1. I am a total night owl!  Always have been and always will be at heart, even if I have to start waking up earlier!
2. I HATE tomatoes, in any form!
3. I am not scared of heights, singing in front of thousands of people or being in small spaces, but seeing a spider makes me feel like I'm having a heart attack and going places alone where I feel like I could possibly be attacked sends me into a panic!
4. I think Facebook is superior to Twitter and Macs are by far superior to PCs!
5. One of my best friends is someone I never would have expected and would have never believed you if you had told me ten years ago that she would be, but she is!  And she gives me more wise counsel and comfort then most other friends combined!
6. I am greatly saddened by the birthing culture in our country and think that most women make the decisions they do because they don't know any better- they don't realize their is even a decision to make in most instances because they aren't educated about their options.
7. I HATE calling to order anything (such as pizza) or asking for help in a store!  I think it might have something to do with not being in charge of the situation.
8. At this point in my life I would rather take family vacations than just one with my husband.
9. I would move to Hawaii tomorrow if I had the chance!
10. I desperately want to find a home church for our family and have that kind of fellowship again.




Next, I received the Friends award from Jackie at 3 Little Ones (which I am entirely flattered by!)!  Here is this award's description:
This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. deliver this award to six bloggers who must choose six more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award. I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming…
These first two awards I would like to bestow on all of my loyal blog followers- you know who you are!  Those of you who consistently flow and comment- I so appreciate your audience, love and feedback and these awards are my way of showing you how much you mean to me!




Lastly, I received The One Lovely Blog Award from Nicolle at Babee Love!  Here are the rules for this award:
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Wow- tall order! I think I am going to have to narrow that list down to five for now, and if I think of more I will post them another time!  Here goes:
Life in Grace
Our Journey Westward
Owl Haven
Delightful Learning
Not Before 7

Many thanks to all three of you mamas who passed these awards to me!  And congrats to those receiving them from me!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friend Makin' Monday- Thanksgiving!


Amber over at {ae filkins} is hosting Friend Makin' Monday, and this week it is all about Thanksgiving!  Here are her questions!


1. Turkey or Ham?  Turkey of course!  Who eats ham on Thanksgiving!?  That's just weird!

2. Favorite side dish.  Tie- Green Bean Casserole and Cheesy Potatoes!

3. Favorite dessert.  Cherry or apple pie!  With homemade whipped cream of course!

4. Black Friday: Are you going or not?  Not, for two reasons- no money and hate the crowds!

5. If so, what's on the top of your list?  Well, I am hoping to help my grandma take advantage of the Black Friday sales at Kelly'sCloset.com to buy Lion Cub some bigger diapers.

6. Going out of town or staying close to home?  Close to home, although I wish I was spending the holiday in Hawaii like last year- best Thanksgiving EVER!

7. Hosting or helping?  Helping (and really I don't even know how much of that I will be able to do with Lion Cub stuck to me!)


8. Name one family tradition at Thanksgiving.  Hmmm... don't really have many, although I do like watching the Macy's parade!

9. What do you do after dinner? Debate over what to do and try to convince the men that football and video games are not fun options for everyone.


10. What are you most thankful for this year? My healthy boys!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook- Week of Thanksgiving 09

FOR TODAY...
Sunday, November 22, 2009

Outside my window...  
Dreery, cold and wet!  It snowed this morning but has pretty much melted off by now.

I am thinking...
That I am tired and have lots to get ready for the week, but I am hoping to have a better attitude this week too.

I am thankful for... 
My boys!  They are happy and healthy and oblivious to our financial stresses during this holiday season!

I am wearing... 
Yoga Pants (even though I rarely do Yoga!), a nursing tank and a long sleeve T.

I am remembering... 
Not much lately!  My brain is so postpartum!  Everything seems to elude me!  I'm lucky if I can remember where I put anything during the day- so frustrating!

I am going... 
to finish up blogging (scheduling for the week) and try to work on what we are going to do for preschool this week!

I am reading... 
Treasured by Leigh McLeroy- just a couple chapters in but I need to finish because I am reviewing next week!

I am hoping... 
 That I can come up with a few good, frugal gift ideas that people will actually like!  Oh, and have the time to complete them!

On my mind... 
My to-do list and what a disaster my house currently is.

From the learning rooms... 
The letters H and I and Thanksgiving lapbooking projects.

Noticing that... 
That Lion Cub is not going to stop screaming until I get off of here and devote my full attention to him!  I have been singing to him while I write this post but it just isn't cutting it!

From the kitchen... 
Making a new recipe tonight- White Chicken Chili!  Hope it's good!

Around the house...
Starting to think about how to decorate this year and hoping our house will be full of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Spirit!

One of my favorite things~ 
Chewy Caramel Bars that I made as a coping mechanism to survive my current stress!

From my picture journal... 
This just make me laugh!



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Things to Share!

First off, for all of you who, like me, are going to have a very budget-conscious Christmas this year, I wanted to pass along a great blog I found called Skip To My Lou!  There is an entire handmade gift guide with the best and most affordable gifts!  I am definitely adding some of these to my list to tackle!




I also just have to mention the giveaway going on this week at The Cloth Diaper Whisperer!  Check this out:



This week's giveaway includes (a $260.00 + retail value!):
1-Flip Video Camcorder! (model to be posted soon)

I would LOVE that camera!!!  So, that is what I have to share for now!  Have a wonderful weekend all!



Commission! Thank you!

I just want to send out a HUGE thank you to whoever used my Kelly's Closet link (right sidebar) to place a $215 order!  I was able to earn a $10 commission- my first EVER!  Woohoo!  And I really need it right now (Lion Cub is growing so quickly- he will need new diapers again very soon and my husband still isn't really working!)!

At a time like this, heading into the holidays and being so financially strapped, little blessings like this just mean so much! So, thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever you are!

If anyone else out there needs to purchase any dipes it would be so totally and completely AWESOME if you did so through my link!  All you have to do is click on the Kelly's Closet link in my right sidebar (or the one in this post for your convenience!) and place your order as usual!  You get points in your customer account (to earn valuable gift certificates!) and I get the commission!  It's a win-win!



Thanks again for your support!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mama's Holiday Wish List Meme!


 Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year? 



It is kind of a tough year this year, so I am not really expecting much of anything.  I am hoping to get a grain mill to mill our own wheat (I have been trying to make our own bread lately and would like to continue to do so).  Ultimately I would love to get a Vitamix Blender, but I know that isn't going to happen (but maybe at the fair next year if things are going better!). 

I need new socks underwear and a haircut, but those sound pathetic to put on my wish list, so scratch that.  I would really love to get this set of books and DVDs and this book from the Simply Charlotte Mason website about early childhood learning, the Charlotte Mason Method and establishing habits in your kids and yourself.


I would also like to get the Duggar's book and a Message/NIV Parallel Bible.  So, yeah, I think that is about it.  I am sure I could come up with a lot more, but those are things that come to mind that even if I don't get for the actual Christmas holiday I hope for us to be able to afford in the early part of the new year.

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received? 

Hmmmm... I am trying to think of one I have received.  I got some cute fabric coasters from my sister-in-law a few years ago.  Those were nice.  Yup, I think that's it.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle? 

A few years ago I bought the fabric to make bags and notebook covers and I was also going to include aprons, homemade bath products and knitted wash cloths- they all have yet to be made.  Maybe someday!  I would also really like to make quilts, but I think that will happen many years from now when I have more time and space!

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child? 

I received a new Cabbage Patch Doll every year and loved EVERY one of them!  I would set up my whole little Cabbage Patch family and take pictures and everything!  I LOVED those dolls!

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year? 

R-Man wants just about everything he sees!  Mostly he wants trucks, construction equipment and legos.  I would like to get him some books and games so that we can start having family game nights. 

For Lion Cub I hope to mostly get clothes and diapers, I mean what does a 6-month-old really need anyway, especially when he has all of his brother's old toys to play with?!

6. What is your favorite holiday food? 

We have BBQ crab every year for Christmas Eve dinner with my family and it is to die for!  I wait all year for it!  I will have to post the recipe for you all because you simply haven't lived until you have had this crab!


I also have a minimal obsession with my grandma's popcorn balls and suckers!  They are sooooo good!  In fact, I should go call her right now so we can plan a date to make them!

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays? 

I am considering making a few simple things (which I can't really post because the people I will be giving them to read my blog! :-) ), but it is really going to depend on how much time I have (Lion Cub makes everything more difficult right now) and if we have the money to buy the ingredients and so forth.  We'll see!

8. What is your favorite holiday movie? 

This is so bad, but growing up my family had a tradition of watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- it is just so stinkin' funny!  We all know all the lines and have a hoot watching it!  We don't watch it with the boys around now though, so alternatively I enjoy the classics, like the Rudolph from the 60s, and The Santa Clause.

9. Favorite holiday song? 

I love Carol of the Bells.  That is a really hard question though because I like so many of them!  I mean it's Christmas music!  What's not to love?!

10. Favorite holiday pastime?

This is a year of lots of new traditions for us.  We are going to do The Jesse Tree Advent countdown, decorate cookies, go look at Christmas lights in our PJs and I am working on more!  I really want to make things special and memorable for our family, especially now that R-Man is getting to the age when he will start remembering the events.  So, any tips or ideas you have would be greatly appreciated!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just trying to find the right fit

I know, I know, "Changing again?" you ask?  Well, yes, I am, but I just haven't been happy with the way my blog looks and have been feeling the need to streamline- simplify.  So bear with me... again! 

I am hoping to figure out how to add a navigation bar at the top, make the middle column a little wider, add custom page breaks and signatures, and number comments.  Plus I am going to revamp my header and so forth. 

It may take me a bit to get it all done, especially considering I am not sure what I am doing for the most part!  I am also working on getting my newest little blogging project live, which I am hoping all of you will enjoy, along with maintaining my boys blogs- and this is just my blogging life!  I still have stuff to do in real life too- no joke! 

So, stay tuned and let me know what you think as you notice the changes!

Friday, November 13, 2009

If I had it my way...

I'd live in Hawaii!!!  Sometimes I think that should be the name of my blog because I feel it so strongly.  I utter those words to my poor husband every day.

And now, it is snowing where I am at.

I don't like it.

At ALL!

This dreary, snowy day chills me to the bone and just makes my resolve to move to the Aloha State even more sincere!

Truth be told, when we were in Kauai last November my husband said to me one day, "You would really just pack up and move here if you could, wouldn't you?  You wouldn't even hesitate."  Nope, I wouldn't.  I would move there next week if I could and I am pretty sure I would have the motivation and determination to get everything in order to do so should the opportunity present itself!

R-Man even told us last night at dinner that we need to go to Hawaii.  I think it is in our blood.

For now, though, I am stuck in this dreary little city, just wishing.  And hoping.  My husband is considering going back to school, though, to get a degree in project management since he has seen a lot of job opportunities on the islands in that field, so maybe it really will happen some day.  You never know!  All my dreaming may not be in vain!

So, dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here... to Hawaii.

A different kind of "reality" family

Alright, I know not everyone will agree, but I really like the Duggars on TLC's 18 Kids and Counting!  Every time I watch them I feel like I have so much to learn in raising my family.  Granted, they have had a lot of practice, but Michelle Duggar is always so calm, patient and loving toward her family.  I especially realize this as I yell for my son to "Pipe down!  I'm trying to listen to the Michelle discuss peace in her home!  Sheesh!"  Errr... yeah, not so good.

I don't agree with everything they believe.  My wardrobe contains pants and you will find dancing in my home almost every hour of the day.  I don't intend to have children into my 40s and I know our styles of homeschooling are very different.  But you know what?  When I look at their children their style and process of parenting and family-life really speaks for itself!  Those kids are solid in their beliefs, kind, generous, respectful and smart, but they are still very much kids.  I see these other reality shows with families, even those who claim to be Christian, and none of them reflect what I would want my family to look like as the Duggars do.

Initially I thought Michelle was, well... a little fake.  When she would constantly talk about "encouragement" with her cheerful demeanor and peppy inflection I couldn't help but roll my eyes.  Then one day it hit me... she is right!  She isn't just saying that because it sounds like the right Christian-ease to plug into the interview, she really means it!  And having gone through a sustained period of things really not going well for my family, I see just how important that encouragement is!  When you have others encouraging you it makes such a difference!  Even just one person reminding you that God does hear you and has not forgotten you, that things will get better, can mean the difference between pushing through one more day or falling into a horrible, bottomless depression.

Another thing that Michelle said on their question and answer show when someone asked how she dealt with the little ones without getting stressed was that she always tries to make sure she is smiling at her kids, intentionally.  Sooner or later you can't help but change your mood, even if just a little bit, if you have a smile on your face!  I have especially found this to be true when R-Man is pitching a fit.  If I smile at him and make him squeak out a smile too, even if it is just a fake one, pretty soon it becomes real and things seem to calm down much more quickly.

I have so much to learn, I know it will never end.  For now though, while I am deeply entrenched in the research years, it is nice to have the Duggars to watch and glean from.  So, thank you Duggars, you are a beautiful family!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meal Planning Love!

The first half of this year I was rockin' in the meal-planning, home-keeping department!  I mean seriously!  I was following Fly Lady like nobody's business, we had home-cooked meals every night and the house was generally spotless!

Then I had Lion Cub (the most bored baby on the planet who lets you know how bored he is every minute of the day!) and all was lost!

Well, November is my fresh start!  I figured, why wait for New Years?  I need to get back on my game NOW (or I may loose my mind and run out of money to feed my family!)!

So, here is what I am back to doing- planning out a whole month of meals at a time!  I know, I know, it sounds daunting, but after you put a little bit of work into it you will save yourself so much time and money!  Plus, by planning the whole month in one sitting I can ensure that we aren't repeating any meals during the month (besides leftovers), which drives my husband crazy!  So, it is a win-win-win!

So, how do I do it?  I'm so glad you asked!

First- I print a blank calendar off my computer.

Second- I make a hot cup of tea (essential!) and sit down with my recipe binder, calendar, and Control Journal (a Fly Lady thing, I have added my own sections to it including one with past meal calendars for inspiration and ideas!).

Third- Formulate the plan!  I go through the month trying make a good mix of flavors, cooking methods and types of veggies and meat throughout each week so we are certain to have a well-balanced diet.  I try to place crock-pot meals on days when I know things will be more busy, or schedule leftovers for such days.  Busy days are also good time to put to use any meals you made duplicates of and froze the month before (I'll talk more about this later).  If it is a more complicated meal I try to figure in days when my husband will most likely be home early or weekends so that he can help with the kiddos.
       I also figure in which days would be good to try new recipes on.  I generally try to include 3-4 new recipes a month to keep things interesting and expand my repertoire of family-loved recipes (if you don't try things you will never know!).  I go through my cookbooks for things we haven't tried or look for recipes on some of my favorite blogs.  My main go-to sources tend to be:

Fourth- Gather my recipes!  Some this may already be done for my new recipes, but for the rest I pull out all the recipes I will need for the month and then divide them into weeks and place them behind my meal calendar in the Meal Planning section of my control journal. This way they are easy to find and reference, should I need to.

Fifth- I write my shopping lists for the whole month!  By doing this all at once it allows me to buy certain things in bulk (that will last through the month) that I would have ordinarily bought in smaller, more expensive portions had I planned by the day or week.  I can also buy in bulk for certain recipes that I plan to make more than one of at the time I prepare the food so that I have meals to put in the freezer.   Plus, getting this all done at once helps me to not leave anything out and saves me a great deal of time over the next three weeks of the month!  It also allows me to clearly budget out our money over the month and minimize the number of trips I need to make to the store.

Sixth- Look for deals and coupons!  I am not always that good at this one, but I do try to divide my shopping list between a couple of different stores where I know I can get the best prices on certain items.

Seventh- Go shopping! I try to really stick to my budget but if I see a great deal on something I will need later in the month then I buy it!  Having a well-planned list helps me get in and out quickly.

Eighth- Prepare!  I keep a few things in mind as I prepare each meal-
  • Am I using any of these ingredients again soon that I can prepare now to save myself time later?  Things such as onions, celery and so on, can be chopped all at once.  If I am making numerous spice mixes throughout the week or month, why not make them all at the same time while I have everything out?
  • Do I have enough ingredients to make more than one meal so that I can put one in the freezer?  I find that I usually have enough of the ingredients I bought for sauces, glazes and so forth, to at least make the recipe twice.  Having a second meal prepared and frozen saves me time and money next month and allows me to apply that whole "buying in bulk principle" if I keep this idea in mind when I am writing my shopping lists.
  • Are we eating this as left overs tomorrow?  If so, are there certain ingredients that would be better to add in fresh tomorrow, such as grated cheese in Tortilla Soup, that I can prepare now so I don't have to tomorrow?
Ninth- Enjoy the fruits of your labor- nutritious meals, saved time, and saved money!  It is so worth it!

I hope this post can help some of you in your mission to feed your family healthfully and economically!  If it does, please share how!  Also, if any of you would like me to post my plans for the month with shopping lists, please let me know (I don't want to do all the extra work unless people are actually interested!)!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How not to get sick!

There is so much controversy brewing over the Swine Flu vaccine that I just couldn't resist putting up the link to a very compelling and informative video on Dr. Mercola's website.  Make sure you are getting the full story on all vaccines that you inject into yourself or your child's body before you do.  From there it is your decision, I just want to encourage you all to be informed consumers.

In addition I thought I would post an article that I recently received in my in-box that I think has a lot of valuable tips for how to avoid getting sick during these winter months (wish I would have found it sooner since I am now battling a raging cold!).  Enjoy and I hope it helps:

Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MMBS,DRM,DNB (intensivist and thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital, Bombay Hospital, Saifee Hospital, Tata Memorial, etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and
Critical Centre, Malad (W).

The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it’s almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and now showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps not fully highlighted in  most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
  1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
  1. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).
  1. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
  1. Similar to 3 above, * clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. * Blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
  1. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). * If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
*Drink as much warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc.) as you can. *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

And last of all, I just want to throw this little link out there with lots of ideas on how to combat and avoid the flu naturally.  Get your Vitamin D and Elderberry ladies- they could save you this season!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My new little (cheap!) love!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my newest kitchen appliance!  A 2-Quart Crock-pot! 



I have wanted one for quite some time to cook the smaller portions of chicken, pork chops, or steak that I usually fix for our little family.  The other day I was at Wal-Mart and saw this gem on sale for only $10.88!  Very budget conscious, I didn't buy it, but then last night I realized that I was going to be cooking pork chops today that were supposed to be slow-cooked and my resistance failed! 

So, I sent my husband by the store on his way home from work, and guess what?  They had dropped the price to $9.00!!!!  Woohoo!!!  So here is my new little beauty, working away!


"Leaving Carolina" Review



I LOVED this book!  It was exactly the kind of light-hearted, chick-book I needed to read right now!  Such a wonderful distraction from real life!  Following Piper Wick on her trip to the town of Pickwick North Carolina to take care of family business was such a joy!  Piper had just the perfect amount of realness, attitude and honesty to make her very relatable and just so much fun to "tag along with!"  

I especially liked Tamara Leigh's writing style.  Everything was in first-person from Piper's perspective (something I have rarely found in fiction- or at least done well).  I really felt like I was inside her head, hearing her honest and interjecting thoughts.  It reminded me very much of my own thought processes and I think that made the book all that much more intriguing to read.

Here is the publisher's summary:

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick , North Carolina , twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.


If you are looking for a truly wonderful, fiction read with both whimsy and depth, then I highly recommend Leaving Carolina.  To purchase your own copy you can visit Waterbrook Press.

Want to join in the fun of reviewing books for Waterbrook Press?  Check out their program here!


This book was provided by the publisher for honest review.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Christmas already?

Yes, that time of year is rolling around again and as we begin to embark on these months of holidays I am setting out to create new traditions for our family (as we have faced many big changes in recent months) and keep things focused on what really matters. 

In addition, since finances have been tight I am trying to figure out how to bless my family and those around me with gifts from the heart that don't require much cash.  We'll see how that pans out, since those gifts tend to require good bits of uninterrupted time which I do not currently have!  On any hand, I thought I would post the link to a fabulous blog I recently found- Life in Grace.  Edie is hosting a "12 days of Handmade Christmas" party that has some wonderful little ideas, so hop on over and check it out!


12 Days of Handmade Christmas

I would also love to hear about some of your unique family traditions!   Things you bake, make, spend your days on or give special meaning to this season and create lifetimes of memories- please share!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Little Update...

So, in the last month or so my family has experienced a string of bad luck.  Our Jeep has been broken into twice (the second time they stole our new stereo), our debit card number stolen (someone tried to book a trip on Orbitz, on us!), the job my husband was supposed to start has been postponed and possibly given to another carpenter (after it had been promised to us and he passed up other jobs in order to be available), and that is just scratching the surface!  My brother has been in and out of the hospital and I have a number of friends whose family members have been diagnosed with diseases (everything from sepsis in a close friend's newborn to cancer in grandparents). 

We've been incredibly busy in addition to these trials and I just haven't had the time or energy to devote to my blogs, sadly.  As things begin to slow down and we enter into November I am hoping to get caught up and introduce you all to a new blog project I have been working on and am very excited about!  I lvoe and miss you all!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kiss Me Again Review



Wow- what a powerful book!  Kiss Me Again, Restoring Lost Intimacy in Marriage, by Barbara Wilson helps couples overcome their sexual pasts in order to foster better intimacy, both sexually and relationally, in marriage. 

I personally don't have much in the way of a sexual past apart from my husband, nor a problem being intimate with him, however I have had much to overcome in our relationship.  My husband was previously married which has been a far more difficult history for me to overcome than my own, and although this book does not specifically address this issue, there were many principles that I could directly apply to our circumstance to help bring healing for both of us.  Although, for the most part, I feel that my husband and I are pretty open with each other, the discussion questions in the book gave us a wonderful opportunity to sit down and really talk about where we are in our relationship and how we can grow closer together and to the Lord.

I also found that much of what Barbara Wilson discusses in the book could be applied to nearly any male/female relationship you've had in your past that involved a break-up, whether it was sexual or not, since much of what she talks about is breaking bonds with the people from our pasts to fully invest our hearts in our spouses. 

I found this book to be very insightful and thought provoking- my copy is dog-eared, underlined and worn.  I think that many women and marriages could find healing, perspective and greater intimacy with their spouse by reading this book and participating in the process it offers.

To purchase your own copy you can visit Random House.


If you would like to become a blogger for books with Waterbrook Press you can visit here.


This book was provided by the publisher for review through a program seeking honest reviews.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BOBA!!



So for those of you who haven't heard, on October 1 the makers of Sleepy Wrap released a brand new carrier for kiddos 15-45lbs and 1-4 years old called Boba (stands for Boulder Baby).  The Boba is a soft, structured carrier that can be worn on either front or back and has ingenious foot straps for toddler's feet to rest in, keeping their legs aligned at the proper 90 degree angle for maximum support.

We were generously sent a Boba to review and were so excited to try it since I had recently been looking into getting a more structured carrier.  Although Lion Cub is only 4 months old, he is already 16lbs and has very good head and back control, so carrier tailored more to a bigger child seemed to be becoming necessary if I was going to be able to keep wearing him.

So, what do I think?  Well, I first tried the carrier on with R-Man who is 3 1/2 and about 28 lbs.  I was thinking, "This is probably going to be really uncomfortable!" But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the carrier dispersed his weight across my back and shoulders very evenly, making me think that if I needed to, I really could carry him in the Boba.  Plus he LOVED it!  I believe his exact words were, "This is so cool mom!"



The next test was with Lion Cub!  I have primarily worn him on the front, since at this stage of the game that is the easiest, and I really can say that I like the Boba a lot!  We have worn it just about everywhere- the apple orchard, the store, breastfeeding group- you name it, we use it!  The straps are really well padded and pretty easy to adjust.  The bottom belt offers a generous amount of support to my back, which is especially important to me having scoliosis (it tends to get worse with the more children you lug around!).  The buckles are both very secure and the length of the back support for the child is nice and long to accommodate a long child (which Lion Cub is!).



What don't I like?  Well, sometimes the buckles seem a little too secure- the large, bottom buckle has a double latching system that can be a little tricky to unclasp when it is on your back.  Also, when wearing the baby on the front, the top clasp (that you hook behind your shoulder blades) can be a little hard to reach.  With that said, however, it hasn't detoured me from using it.

In fact, especially as Lion cub gets bigger and older and I am able to wear him on my back more, I am quite sure that Boba will be our go-to carrier!  It is so well designed with both baby and mama in mind that I think it is pretty hard to beat.  It is rare to find a company who puts as much research and development into making an all around wonderful product such as this, and the fact that it is 100% Organic and made in the US is just the icing on the cake!  Oh, and did I mention that it can easily be adjusted for moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas to all get in on the babywearing action?!  Gotta love that!



I can say with confidence that if I were looking into buying a carrier right now, Boba is the one I would get.  I think I would go so far as to challenge families to try it and not like, because once you use it you can't help but fall in love!  And hey, who doesn't like getting stopped in public and complimented on their beautiful carrier (as has happened to me!)?  The Boba just attracts that kind of attention!  :-)


So, have I convinced you?  Want to try one too?  Head on over to BobaCarrier.com and use the code mamakenz for a 10% discount through November 11- you won't regret it!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Aloha Friday- Oct. 9, 2009


 Here is how this meme is explained over at An Island Life-
"In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link below. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!"
So, my question for this week is-

Do you decorate for fall?

Personally, I like to add fall colors to our home and place gourds and cornstalks on our porch, but we don't make jack-o-lanterns because we don't like to celebrate Halloween.

Answer my question, post your own then link up and find more at An Island Life!