Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Idea for Cooking with Children.

Ellie enjoys helping me cook. Especially if I'm making biscuits or pizza dough. When she sees the flour and the bowl on the counter she scoots a chair over and climbs up. I've been trying to let her do more stirring but inevitably we end up with flour all over the counter and on the floor. This frustrates me.

The other day we were making pizza dough together and the idea came to me to sit the bowl in the sink. Why have I not thought of this before?! Why has no one told me this trick to cooking with children? Now when the flour comes flying out clean-up is a simple turning of the faucet; no broom required.

Ellie thinks it's a good idea, too!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Car Insurance Quotes. I'm saving $120 for 6 months!!

When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? I don't mean because you have a new (to you) car. I'm talking about comparing the prices of various companies.

With the internet it only takes a few minutes. Find the websites for a few major companies and enter the data for the coverage you want. It might take you an hour to do this for 3 or 4 companies. Just be sure you enter the same coverage amounts each time.

You may be wondering what is prompting this unsolicited advice. Our auto insurance was up for renewal in September. So I decided to look at our bills for the last 5 renewals (I have all my financial records in binders for each year and can pull any bill going back 6+ years in about 3 minutes). $549, $553, $531, $540, $546.

Shouldn't the cost of car insurance gradually decrease each year? It did with our previous company. After all, we are getting older and our vehicles are getting older (one is 12 years old!).

I jumped on the web and did some comparison shopping. After changing a few small things with our coverages GEICO will insure us for $425.70. Compared to the same coverage at Progressive for $546. And that's paying for the whole 6 months! (Please don't tell me you are paying month-to-month, save up and get the discount!!!).

I decided to see if Progressive would come down so I called. The first girl offered me $540. Huh?! Then she transferred me to a "specialist" who "reviewed my policy" and offered me $485. What?!

Why in the world should I pay more for the exact same coverage?! That's crazy!! Do you know what I can do with $60? Buy a week of groceries. Almost fill my gas tank for a month. Eat at McDonald's for lunch and Cracker Barrel for supper. Not to mention how many diapers I can buy.

You can guess that we're changing companies. Let me urge you to do a little research. I'm saving $120 for 6 months after about 30 minutes of effort. That's a pretty good return on my time.

Try it and see what you can get. If you aren't up for renewal but find a cheaper price, go ahead and switch. The old company will pro rate you a refund on the time left on your policy.

And by all means, let me know how much money you save!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Links for your enjoyment. 9.28.08

Here are some blog posts by other bloggers I thought you might enjoy reading.

Seed and Bread by Beth @ The LPM Blog. (My bread? My children. January 2002, after 4.5 years of marriage I very much wanted children. I can just imagine God's delight with each of my prayers knowing that within a 5.5 year span he would give me not one but FOUR children!)

Like an Oyster by Sarah @ In the Midst of It. (I've had my own grains of irritation this week. I wish I'd handled them all with thoughtfulness and grace.)

Stuff and Things by Sally @ I Take Joy. (I'm currently reading her The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ's Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children. More about that in a few weeks when I've finished. This post lists her conferences. I wish I could attend one!!!)

Someone's Watching by Jennifer @ Snapshot (I think I may need an accountability partner. Pushing past mediocrity is a challenge.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wedding #4

As we prepared to leave the house to attend wedding number 4 for this summer, Will asked, "How many more weddings do we have to go to?" I think he is all done with weddings!

We had a fun time at the wedding and reception. The highlight for my gang came in the form of cupcakes instead of traditional wedding cake. They also enjoyed playing with friends in the church yard and blowing bubbles as the bride and groom left the building.

Will declared this his favorite wedding (Sorry Jess and Kat! His favor can be easily bought with cupcakes and bubbles!).

He also announced his wedding will take place on June 1st. And that he will marry Mia. Joel informed him he had to ask Mia's Daddy first. I asked Will what he thought Andy would say. "No" was the response.

Ben and Mia were so intent on dipping their wands in the bubbles. The bubble jar was shaped like a cute little chapel.

What is it about boys and their shirt tails?

The beautiful bride and groom left amid a flurry of bubbles. Her dress is amazing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wal-Mart Prices Matches!

On a recent shopping excursion to the Wal-Mart Super Center I stopped at their front desk and asked about their price matching policy.

1. Bring the flyers for other stores with you (circle the items you plan to buy to make things easier checking out).

2. They match prices for ALL items. Produce. Meat. Non-perishable. Toiletry products. Etc.

3. They will NOT match "buy one get one free."

4. Tell the checker before she rings the item. She needs to do a price over-ride.

Instead of going to all the stores for sales just go to Wal-Mart. You can save grocery money, gas money AND time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Loving Well by Beth Moore

For four weeks the ladies of my church are meeting on Thursday evenings to watch DVDs of Beth Moore's Loving Well Retreat. God must think I need help loving others because I participated in this same study last summer. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

If you've never read or heard this study let me tell you her Four Main Points:
  1. God is perfect love (1 John 4:18).
  2. Nothing can separate me from God's perfect love (Romans 8:38-39).
  3. God pours His perfect love into my imperfect heart (Romans 5:5).
  4. Accessed, I can love anyone through anything (Philippians 4:13).
I am blown away by Beth's definition of loving well: "a persevering love that goes beyond our human capabilities." Just stop a minute and read that again. "A persevering love that goes beyond our human capabilities."

I am finding that my human capability to love (among other things) is extremely limited. Or maybe I should say, is extremely self-focused.

I'm so thankful that God doesn't love me the same way I love others AND that he gives me opportunities to mature in this area. Let's read number 3 again. "God pours His perfect love into my imperfect heart (Romans 5:5)."

Wow! He knows my love is imperfect and immature so he fills me with himself so I can use his love instead of mine! What an awesome thought. Which brings me to another thought. He can't fill me if I'm not open, available and still. Yes, I'm about to mention the thing known among Christian circles as a "Quiet Time."

This is another habit I've been working on - a consistent daily time alone with God. This habit has always been difficult for me. I'm not sure why. Even when I had no children, no job, and no blogs I found it hard to make time to be alone with God. I'm really trying to change that.

You know it's funny, I can be exhausted by the time lunch rolls around, put the kids down for naps and take a nap myself, only to wake up just as exhausted as I was when I went to sleep. Yet, if I spend that same time reading God's word and praying I somehow have the energy to finish out the day. I'm guessing it has something to do with him pouring his perfect love (and energy) into me.

I'm really excited about this study and can't wait to see how God works in me and teaches me to love beyond myself. If you want to learn more about the perfect love of God and how to share his love then I highly recommend this study.

You can click here for more information about the DVD kit (which is $100 from Lifeway). If that's too expensive for you (waving my hand here!), check out the "related" tab. You can download the individual sessions for $5 each (there are 4). Be sure to buy the journal. It's only $6. You could get the whole thing for $26! Why not put it on your Christmas Wish List?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cabbage Patch Dolls

OK, Ladies. Who among us had a Cabbage Patch Doll growing up?

And for all you young'uns, I'm talking about the FIRST Cabbage Patch Dolls. The ones parents stood in line for hours to buy for Christmas back before you were born. (Oh, do I feel old!)

The real question is did you have an "official" doll or did you have a knock-off? And can you tell today which one is which?

I had a knock-off. My maternal Grandma paid a lady to make one from a kit for each of us 5 granddaughters. Truth be told she probably paid almost as much as a store bought doll cost. Can you tell from the picture which is "real" and which is the fake?
The real one arrived last month from my mom for Ellie's second birthday. It must be genetic to buy your granddaughter a Cabbage Patch Doll.

Don't be fooled by the picture. She plays with her baby dolls but if you look on the bed over her shoulder you'll see the (empty) water gun she put down in order to pose for me with the dolls.

She's quite the mix of girly-girl and tom boy!

So, did you have a Cabbage Patch Doll? Real or fake? Do you still have it?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pray the sickness lifts!

Hi All,

Could you do me a favor and ask God to heal my family?! Every single one of us has some form of runny nose, sore throat, cough, and aches. No fevers yet. Normally I take little viral colds in stride but we are going to Massachusetts on Thursday for a few days AND I really want everyone healthy.

Especially Joel. Who came home from work early today and is in bed sleeping as I write! I can't do 36 weeks pregnant, sore throat, sickly children and a trip with him sick also!!!

Thankfully I've stocked up on chicken noodle soup in recent weeks. That's what we're having for supper tonight. And medicine for everyone (but me!) with early bed times.

Climbing Mount Laundry: Weekly or Daily Routine

Last week I issued a challenge to create ONE HABIT to make you feel good about your home. My one habit is to go to bed with a clean kitchen. I realize the dishes and kitchen may not be an issue for you. Maybe your problem area is laundry. Hopefully you can profit from what I've learned about climbing Mount Laundry.

Weekly Laundry Routine

I used a weekly laundry routine or system for about four years. I had a part-time job, lived in an apartment without a washer/dryer, and had no children. On the same day each week I loaded up our 3-4 loads of dirty laundry and hauled it to the laundromat. There I washed and dried all of our clothes at the same time. When they finished drying I folded everything on the tables, hauled it all home, and put it all away. The whole process took me less than 3 hours and I didn't have to worry with it for the rest of the week.

I found the key to this routine or system was having A SPECIFIC DAY SET ASIDE TO GET IT DONE. I guarded that morning on my calendar and tried to schedule work and friends around that time.

Then we bought a house WITH a washer and a dryer. Oh, happy day!! I continued to wash and dry laundry all in one day and it worked OK. After our first child was born the routine began to break down. Dirty laundry piled up in baskets. Clean laundry piled up on beds. By the birth of the second child I knew I had to change my system.

Daily Laundry Routine

I currently use a daily routine to stay on top of the laundry for 5 (soon to be 6) people. Here's how I climb Mount Laundry now:
  1. Each bedroom has a laundry basket in the closet. I only separate adult darks and whites. Dirty laundry is placed in the basket when it is taken off.
  2. A basket for towels and washcloths is in the bathroom. A separate basket for clothes that have been peed in is there also.
  3. Each basket is assigned a day of the week to be washed.
  • Monday: Towels. Sheets.
  • Tuesday: Big boys' basket. Pee-pee clothes.
  • Wednesday: Ellie and Sam's basket.
  • Thursday: Adult dark and white baskets.
  • Friday: any clothes we need for the weekend, wet sheets, or a basket full of pee-pee clothes.
ASSIGNING EACH BASKET A SPECIFIC DAY to be washed has cut down on the “no clean laundry” crises, as well as the piles of clean-but-not-put-away laundry. It also keeps the number of laundry loads each day low and manageable. I can usually find 5 minutes to throw clothes in the washer or dryer and 10 minutes to fold and put them away but I can't find a solid hour to just fold!

Laundry with Children

Earlier this year I began training my boys (5 and 3) to put away their own clothes. They help sort Will's clothes onto his bed and Ben's clothes onto his bed. Then each boy sorts his shirts, underwear and shorts/pants into separate piles. Finally, each folds and puts away his own clothes. The folds aren't perfect and neither are the stacks in each drawer but they are improving with practice and the best part is I'm not doing it!

That's how I stay on top of Mount Laundry. Do you have a routine or system in place to process laundry? Are you training your kids so you can eventually climb down Mount Laundry? If not, try the Weekly or Daily Routine, I promise you won't regret it!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Backyard Camping '08

Friday night (before wedding #4) Joel and the boys camped out in our backyard. They did the same thing last year. Our tent, which was used for the first time last year and barely fit them all then.

So Joel decided to borrow a bigger tent from our friends. It did not come with directions which proved to be interesting! Should you have four poles left over after the tent is up?

In case you are wondering if I slept in the tent here's a quote from Will. "Pregnant girls don't ever camp." Right you are, son!

Even Ellie helped pitch the tent. She's holding a pole.
Both boys helped.
Will inspected the results.
They barely stood still long enough for this picture.
Naturally there were s'mores!
Click on the picture to see Ellie's wide open mouth!

Girls Night!!! A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

What more can I say? Oh yeah! The restaurant closed but they let us stay while they cleaned up. We finally left at 1:30 AM - that's IN THE MORNING, people!

I sure do love Girls Night!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Review of Members Night at Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI.

In August Roger Williams Park Zoo hosted their annual members appreciation night. This meant the zoo stayed open from 5 - 8:00 pm. Just for members. We decided it would be a fun weeknight outing for our family and attended.

I believe a RWP Zoo membership is one of the best deals in the state. A Family level membership is only $79 and includes 2 adults and 4 children. Visiting the Zoo twice for my family (Ellie is still free) would cost us $72. You see why I think this is a good deal. Paying for a membership means I can take the kids to the zoo any day and stay as long or as little as I want and still feel like I got my money's worth.

Even though I think a zoo membership is a good deal, I felt disappointed in their members night and the zoo in general. I expected a night designed to show appreciation to the members. That's not what we experienced.

I anticipated seeing Zoo Keepers and docents answering questions at various animal exhibits (unlike during normal hours when I've rarely seen them). Nope. We saw one Keeper hard at work to care for the elephants. He clearly did not have time to answer our questions. Another Keeper carried a young wallaby around in a pouch and was a highlight for our evening. She answered questions but was FLOCKED by people.

Also, we could hardly see the free popsicle stand because of all the workers hawking do-dads as a fundraiser. Not to mention getting around the raffle ticket table and the DJ. I understand the need to raise money. Really I do. But I thought the night was supposed to be about appreciating the members of the zoo. Apparently it was another way to get money from people who already support the zoo.

I think this member night highlighted areas of disappointment I already have. Our trip to Mystic Aquarium a couple of weeks prior didn't help matters. Hands-on exhibits and Docents/Keepers everywhere. Those people really know how to run a place. I wish RWP Zoo would learn a few things from them.

That's not to say I won't go back. I still think it's a frugal deal for my family. Not to mention I only drive 15 minutes to get there. I just wish they would focus a little more on customer service.
Ellie enjoyed her popsicle!
We're still perfecting the popsicle technique.
Will in deep concentration.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Memorizing Scripture with Children and for Myself

One of my home school goals for William this year (as well as Ben and myself) is to memorize scripture. I learned earlier this year that my guys are sponges when it comes to memorizing so I knew this would not be a difficult goal for them.

The hard part is for me to consistently work with them and review verses we've already learned. And for me to learn the verses. My brain isn't quite the sponge that their's is.

I decided an easy place for us to begin is with ABC Verses. You take the alphabet and use a verse that begins with each letter. We are learning a new verse every week. At first I feared this would be too many but I concerned myself over nothing!

It's made even easier for us by listening to the Bible Alphabet Song on our Songs from The Psalty's Kids Bible CD.
I found this list which contains most of the verses used in the song. However, I have adjusted them to NIV and I've changed a few of the verses.

Of course, you could develop your own list but that would have taken more time and energy. This seemed like an easy place to start.

Every morning, after morning chores, we all sit at the kitchen table for Bible time. The kids look forward to this time. They fetch their Bibles and sit excitedly. I have underlined in their Bibles the verse we are learning so they start looking for it when they sit down. Not only are they memorizing scripture but they are also learning how to look up verses in the Bible, about the Old and New Testaments AND the order books come in the Bible. Keep in mind they don't read yet so the underlining helps them find the right spot.

Then we all say the verse together, they say it individually and we review previous verses. Both my boys are doing great! Last week we learned Acts 16:31. At one point during the week Ben came to me all excited because he'd heard a woman on another CD say "Acts." I love that he's making connections between what he's hearing and what he's learning.

Even Ellie tries to say the verses. She gets a couple of words right in each one. She's only 2 years old so I'm not expecting much from her. But it doesn't hurt to familiarize her with the Word or the process now!!

This is a fairly simple method of memorizing. If you are interested in more ideas on memorizing scripture be sure to check out the Scripture Memory System at Simply Charlotte Mason or read this article on Scripture memory by Teri Maxwell. Be sure to read part 2 of the article here.

What are you doing to memorize scripture for yourself as well as put the Word of God into the hearts and minds of your children?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Elisabeth's 2 year pediatrician check-up.

***Warning. This post is a slight rant. Read at your own risk.

I took Ellie for her 2 year check-up recently. She did NOT like the scales. She is supposed to lie down on this fancy table for the nurse to weigh her and then measure how long she is. Nope. Wasn't gonna happen. She even refused to sit on the table. We think she weighs just under 25 pounds. That's about what I expected.

To put that into perspective, both Will and Ben weighed over 20 pounds by 9 months. As you can see, Ellie's a bit smaller than they were!!

So then our pediatrician comes into the room. He reviewed her stats and placed her on "The Chart" where she is about 10th percentile for height and below 30th percentile for weight. His words were - "she's perfect."

Let me tell you how much I LOVE a doctor who doesn't flip out about where a child falls on the charts!! These charts are truly meaningless. After all, if you lined up 100 women who were born the exact same day I was born would my position in the line for height or weight indicate health? Only on the extreme ends. And can't you usually tell by looking at a person if they are at an unhealthy weight? I'm pretty sure my stats would be about like Ellie's. (Ha! Ha!)

Another expected thing was that he scolded me for not taking her to have a blood test done for lead. This is a very Rhode Island/ New England thing. The state is all about having children tested for lead poisoning. Annoys me to death. We are supposed to do it at 1, 2, and 3 years. My pedi recommends 1 & 2 years.

I complied with the boys but since they were both fine, we live in a low risk home, and Ellie clearly shows no signs or symptoms of lead poisoning I just haven't put us all through the trauma of a blood test (they will take blood from her arm just like for an adult!!).

He gave me 2 reasons to have the test done. 1. He will have them test the blood for other stuff as well, like iron levels. 2. She cannot enter the school system without having this test done.

OK. How much do you think that last reason concerns me? And how much do you think it annoys me? Seriously folks. I understand requiring immunizations to go to school; we don't want anyone catching anything. But to require me to test for something that is NOT contagious seems like an invasion of privacy to me!

We do plan to get the blood test done soon. But only because of testing for anemia and other stuff like that. NOT because of the lead.

And my final annoyance is that the American Pediatrics Yada Yada Yada has changed their recommendations for well visits. Now ALL 2.5 years should have a well visit. To check for delayed development (think autism spectrum). That means I'm supposed to take Ellie back in 6 months, pay $25 for them to weigh and measure her, and let the doctor watch her for 2 minutes in order to once again pronounce her perfect. I am not worried about Ellie being on the spectrum! Of my 3 children she is the most advanced developmentally. Her verbal skills are incredible. You've seen evidence of her climbing skills. And if she knows you fairly well her relational skills will get you hugs, kisses and an earful of words.

Having said all of that, I'll probably take her for the visit anyway. But only because I'll already be at the pediatrician's office for Ben's 4 year old visit and probably a well visit for Sam as well. Nothing like killing 3 birds with one stone!

On a lighter note, Will is getting very bold. Before the doctor left the room Will says, "Dr. S., this week my dad brought home a Curious George video from the library and in it the Man with the Yellow Hat had to go to the doctor for a check-up so George got to go along, too. While they were there George got to listen to his heartbeat with the doctor's ...." At that point he couldn't think of the right word. Our doctor smiled and asked if Will would like to listen to his own heartbeat. You should have seen the grin and head nod on Will!

So Will listened to his heartbeat with a real doctor's stethoscope. He was thrilled. Maybe one day he'll become a doctor just like his great-grandfather William was. Or not. Either way a doctor took time to listen to and encourage a 5 year old boy. Just another reason why I heart my pediatrician!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Samuel and I at 34 weeks.

I can hardly believe I have 6 weeks left to this pregnancy. At moments that feels like forever but when I consider all I'd like to do in those 6 weeks it doesn't feel long enough!

Sam and I visited the OB again on Friday. Just the routine drill - pee in a cup, stand on the scales, measure the belly, listen to the heartbeat. I remember loving every appointment with Will; my how things change by the fourth baby! Poor kid, he'll be lucky if there are any pictures of him around!

The doctor didn't even mention my low iron blood count and I forgot to ask until I was back in the van. I'm not all that concerned about it. My weight was up 5 pounds in 2 weeks! That was so not accurate! Partly because the appointment 2 weeks ago was before lunch and this one was after lunch and partly because last time the weather was still warm so I had on as few clothes as possible. The weather Friday morning was cool so I wore heavy jeans and clunky fall shoes. We all know how clothing can affect the scale!

The doctor had a hard time getting a reading on Sam's heartbeat. She kept assuring me that it can take a while to find, depending on his position. I wasn't worried since her difficulty was caused by him moving all over the place every time she put pressure on my belly. Clearly he was alive and kicking in there! She finally commented on how much he was wiggling. TELL me about! = )

The only thing of any real interest was that she thought he was in a breach position. Interesting. I've never had one do that this late in the game. She mentioned he could still turn again. I don't know how. Goodness knows there's not much space in there for such maneuvering! It doesn't really matter if he's breach since I'm already having a scheduled c-section. I'd just like him to move his feet out of my right ribs, but that's not likely to happen.

The picture below was taken after church on September 7 at almost 34 weeks. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Clean Kitchen: Building One Habit to Make Me Feel Good About My Home

At the beginning of this summer I began to contemplate what my life with four children (ages 5 to newborn), a house, a husband, and a home school would look like. Let me tell you, I felt overwhelmed quick!

Then I realized a few things. First, I possess the knowledge of how to do the tasks required to manage my home and family. Second, I never established the habits necessarily to apply my knowledge. And third, my life and home are only going to spiral completely out of control if I don't make some changes.

So I set out this summer to create habits in me and my children that I should have built throughout the last decade. I started out slow; I've tried different systems in the past and they never lasted (Flylady, anyone?). I determined this time would be different.

As I thought about managing my home, family and school, I considered what ONE HABIT could I create to make me feel good about my home?

That was easy. Go to bed every night with a clean kitchen. By clean I mean, dishes all washed (I am the dishwasher) and drying in the drainer; with table, counters and stove top wiped down. This may seem elementary to you but for me it's been a difficult habit to establish.

I committed to create the habit (something done automatically with little or no thought) to have a clean kitchen when I go to bed. Here are FOUR STEPS I followed, though not consciously at the time:
  1. IMMEDIATELY wash the dishes after supper. Later or “soaking” only results in procrastinating until tomorrow.
  2. KEEP AT THE TASK UNTIL IT IS COMPLETE. If the drainer fills up and there are still dirty dishes I must dry the dishes and wash some more!
  3. RETRAIN MY THINKING. Instead of: “I'm so tired.” “I hate washing dishes.” Think: “One more dish. I can do one more dish.” “The kitchen will look nice when I'm done.” “I'll be glad I did this in the morning.”
  4. FIND WAYS TO BUILD IN SUCCESS FOR MY FLEDGLING HABIT. In this instance, find ways to reduce the number of dirty dishes. For me that meant using cheap-o paper plates for every meal. Once a month I bought 300 paper plates for about $5 at Wal-Mart. Cooking on the grill helped eliminate dirty pots and pans.
Have I built my habit? It's been slow going but gradually, more mornings than not, I awoke to a clean kitchen. I discovered that the more I saw a clean kitchen the more I wanted to keep it clean. Which meant after two or three weeks of washing dishes after supper I started making sure they were washed after breakfast; and then lunch; and now I've included afternoon snack dishes.

Do I WANT to wash the dishes? NO!! But, I'm training myself to think “I can get those lunch dishes done in about 3 minutes and then it's over.” Much better than dreading it for hours during the afternoon. Notice that after months in this process I'm still changing my thought patterns. That means it's not a habit, yet; but it's getting close.

With the aid of this one habit the future, as well as the present, no longer feels as overwhelming to me. Which is why I'm sharing my journey in habit building with you. I want you to experience the same kind of satisfaction and pleasure in your home that I'm experiencing. Will you join me on this journey of habit building?

What ONE HABIT can you create to make you feel good about your home? What does that habit look like? How can you apply the four steps to build that ONE HABIT into your life?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wedding Number 3 for Summer 2008

I mentioned recently that 2008 is the Summer of Weddings for us. Here are a couple of pictures from the wedding we attended last month in New York.

My boys called the groom "Handsome Mr. Andy" all weekend. He looked quite handsome all dressed up in his tux! Miss Jess looked beautiful as well.

My guys also enjoyed tapping their glasses during the meal at the reception (for those unfamiliar with this tradition, when anyone taps their glass the bride and groom are supposed to kiss). I think my guys were more concerned with hitting a glass with a fork than the whole kissing part.

They made their own wedding cake -
which is not uncommon among culinary school graduates!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Review of Knights Inn or Kings Inn, Endwell, New York

* Knights Inn Endwell/Binghamton, NY (according to the website)
* Kings Inn Endwell, NY (according to their business card)
* www.knightsinn.com or www.kingsinnendicott.com (google produces lots of hits but I couldn't find the actual site)

When: August 22, 2008

Accommodations: 2 double beds, no smoking, free continental breakfast included
- $58 plus taxes totaled $65.54

Customers: Family of 5 - 2 adults, children ages 5, 3, 2 (she slept in a pack n play)

The room:
* The floor felt grubby under my bare feet. Gross!
* The mattress and box springs were slightly different sizes - the set obviously did NOT go together. Though the mattress was firm, which I like.
* One window did not have a screen. I discovered this as my oldest two children LEANED OUT THE SECOND STORY WINDOW!!!
* There was NO hair dryer or clothes iron. We were attending a wedding the next day so this caused great frustration. I asked for a hair dryer at the front desk and was told they were all being used. I think the truth is there were none to be had to begin with but the lady didn't want to tell me that.
* In the shower there was a USED BAR OF SOAP WITH A HAIR ON IT!!! Gross.
* The toilet had a mildew stain around the water level line. Either it is seldom flushed or seldom cleaned.
* Only 2 sets of towels in the room, despite indicating 5 guests when reserving and checking in. I had to go to the desk and ask for more, where I was given a tied bag with 2 more sets. I didn't realize there were only 2 until we were ready to give the kids a shower. I didn't want to traipse back to the office for more.

* Breakfast. Average. Bagels, pastries, cold cereals, coffee, milk, juice, hot tea.
* Internet. NONE.
* Swimming pool. This was our biggest disappointment. Upon check-in I asked where the pool was located and the clerk informed me "No pool." I expressed disappointment and that part of why we chose them was the indoor pool. "I don't know where you got your information from" was the response. Um, gee... YOUR WEBSITE and every other website that lists you!

Try telling 3 young children with brand new life jackets they can't go swimming. Not fun. At breakfast we could see the pool, pump still operating. Though it looked liked it hadn't been cleaned all summer. So maybe not swimming was a good thing.

Who should stay here: the groomsmen and other young male guests for the wedding had no real issues with the hotel (other than the lack of internet). So if you are looking for a questionably clean but cheap place to sleep for the night then this hotel will be fine for you. If you are a family with small children by all means DO NOT stay at this hotel.

*** We did not move to another hotel because this was move-in weekend for the local university and all hotels in the area were full.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Scripture Personal

I've been reading Philippians. I read through all four chapters in about 20 minutes. I'm not really “in a place” to do in-depth Bible study right now; not with starting to home school, preparing for a new baby and maintaining a home for five people, so I'm just reading and trying to think about what I've read.

After a couple of days of just reading I noticed that specific verses created a “twinge” every time I read them. So I wrote them all down in my journal. Not verbatim. Just the phrases that resonated with me.

The next day as I read over my list of verses or phrases I decided to paraphrase them with more personal words. That's not to say the original words aren't personal. I just needed to hear them as though Jesus himself wrote them down just for me.

Here are a few examples.

Philippians 2:13
“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” NASB
“I am working in you, Stephanie, both to think and to act for My holy pleasure.”

Philippians 2:14
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” NASB
“ Stephanie, do everything I ask of you without complaining or arguing.

Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” NASB
“Stephanie, I will give you the strength you need to do everything I've asked of you.”

Philippians 4:19
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” NASB
“Stephanie, I made everything so it all belongs to me. I can and will meet all your needs if you let me.”

After reading through my paraphrased list I feel closer to Jesus and encouraged. I also grasped a little better the meaning behind the words. I think this is a good thing.

What about you? What helps you move scripture from your head to your heart?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mouse Cookies & More Book Review

William received Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury last year for Christmas. We all fell in love with it!

This compilation includes four stories from the "If You ... Series:" If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, and If You Take a Mouse to School. Included at the end of each story are recipes, songs, and activities. A CD with the songs and stories also came with our book.

My guys (ages 5 and 3) have enjoyed the silliness of thinking about what can happen when you give a mouse a cookie (and the mouse talks, wears clothes, and colors). I've enjoyed how it's helping them to grasp the concept of consequences, even if the consequences author Laura Numeroff cooked up for us are pretty outlandish.

These pictures books also sparked creativity in my children. They have concocted their own "If ... Then" stories about squirrels. It's amazing what those crazy fluffy tailed creatures can do in the mind of little boys.

The illustrations are superb. Felicia Bond uses colored pencils (I think) to capture the whimsy and details of Mouse, Pig, and Moose. She even includes "hidden" pictures or words in some of the drawings. Just another detail to hold the interest of children.

Who should read these stories? EVERYONE! Even the college students visiting my home earlier this year enjoyed reading this book - and they weren't all reading TO my children.

For more Children's Classics picture books visit 5 Minutes for Books.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Three "warriors-in-training" and one princess who thinks she is.

I recently read a post by Vicki Courtney at Virtue Alert. Her title is Warrior or Wimp: How not to raise a Momma's Boy. If you have a son, you must go read her post! She has photo and video evidence that her sons aren't momma's boys.

I couldn't help laughing as I read. I'm pretty sure my guys AREN'T momma's boys! If you've viewed my photos over this summer you will probably agree with me.

I made Joel listen to the post and watch the video. I asked if he thought our guys would do the things hers are doing one day. He laughed and said he'd do it now! And then he listed his two partners in crime - Andy and Mike - who would participate in the mayhem with him.

I think I'm married to a warrior and he is training two (soon-to-be three!) "warriorlets!" It's no wonder my guys act like they do!

Vicki's sons are currently teenagers which got me figuring the ages of my own troup. When Sam turns 13 in October 2021 their ages will be 18, 16, 15, 13. Four teenagers in one house. Lord, have mercy!!

In the meantime, could someone please explain to my Baby Girl that she's a "princess-in-training" and NOT a "warrior-in-training?" She seems to think she needs to do everything her brothers do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Labor Day Weekend 2008 during which no laboring took place.

Labor Day Weekend 2008 kicked off at our house Friday night with a family birthday party for Ellie. Two years old. I still can't believe it!The big girl helped stir her own cake.
Doesn't she look pleased with herself?
After her favorite dinner - pizza, she dug into the cake.
Not quite as messy as last year!
Sunday night we toasted s'mores at our friends' house, enjoyed some fellowship
and played with sparklers. Shhh! Don't tell anyone. They're illegal in RI.
Monday we drove down to Beavertail Lighthouse,
picnicked on the grass and climbed on the rocks.
"I can see the WHOLE ocean from here!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September 2nd - A Day of Beginnings

Eleven years ago, September 2, 1997 to be exact, Joel began his first day of work at a real job, in a real office, for a real paycheck. I wish I had a picture of his nervous 22 year old baby-faced self. Married for all of 3 months, newly college graduated and recently moved to Rhode Island from Arkansas we had the world by the tail! Or so we thought.

Fast forward eleven years.

Another baby-faced male sits at my kitchen table entering a new era of his life. How can this be? How can my firstborn start Kindergarten already?!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Everyone needs a pregnancy buddy!

Amy and I posed for this picture Sunday, August 31. She is due with Baby #3 seven weeks after I'm due with Samuel.

William and Micah's pregnancies, plus Benjamin and Mia's pregnancies, also overlapped but with a 6 month time span in between. That meant I was HUGE and Amy wasn't showing. Then by the time she did show, I was done. As a result, we don't have any pictures of us both obviously pregnant together.

Now we do! (Sidenote: Christie, we need you to "round out" our trio! She's due about the same time as Amy. With her 4th boy! Give her some prayers, Ladies!)
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