Monday, January 31, 2011

House Hunting

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We are house hunting. Finally. We have sifted through our options and it looks like this is the one we are presented with. It's such an odd feeling, to have to go and look for a new place to live. We have lived in the condo for so long that it just seems so normal. As much as I know we have to do this, to make this huge transition, it is painful to think of all that will come with it. It will disrupt the family, it will strain the kids, it will be an endless amount of work for Chris and I. But it is necessary, and we must do it.

We are looking for a realtor, and have started searching through the endless listings of homes. It is amazing how many are for sale. Our condo will be joining that list soon. I'm not really sure what to look for. There are so many options. It is hard to try to imagine what space we need and imagine how we could best use the spaces that are available to us. We don't want too much space, but we don't want to move into too little.

Chris has been talking to the kids about getting a new house. Here is Sophia's new bedtime want list: a drink of water, a tissue, a kiss and hug, a house

We will do our best, little girl.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tax Time

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After taking Financial Peace University about a year ago, we were even more convinced of the idea that we should adjust our taxes so that we didn't really get much of a refund when we file.  I'm absolutely positive we can do a better job spending our money than the government.  The problem is, it's hard to do that.  It's hard to figure out how many withholdings to take throughout the year to get as close to a $0 return as possible. I'm even OK owing money at the end of the year.  If anybody has a method for ensuring a $0 return, pass it along! 

I was thinking back the other day about my first memories of my parents doing taxes.  They would both sit at the dining room table with calculators and work it out.  It's so much easier now!  I just input the information on one of the approved web sites and it calculates everything, files it for us, and electronically gives us a transfer or pays what we owe. 

I'm OK paying taxes, I'm glad to have the benefits they provide.  To quote a dadism: "I'd be glad to pay taxes on a million dollars."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Isaac and the Steps

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Since we have 2 flights of steps in the house, we like to try to encourage the kids to learn how to safely go up and down them at an early age.  Eli and Sophie seemed to master coming down pretty early on.  I'm eager to get rid of the baby gates and have the house open again.  Isaac has the going up under his belt.  He's been working on coming down.  He apparently didn't get the memo that he was to come down SAFELY.  Here is a clip of the method he has chosen to use:

Notice what he does on the last step right at the end of the clip.  He sits down completely and starts to lean back!  There's no telling when he'll do that on the descent.  He thinks it's pretty funny that he can get down the steps on his own. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Special Guest Post

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Elijah would like to post on the blog.  Here is his commentary:

We should write Sophie and Isaac's name.  
I would like to build a snowman.  Can you do that on there?
 Dragon!  Write dragon on there!
(What else do you want to tell them?)
Tell them about that [points to the emblem on his pants].  What is that anyway?
How about ABC?
(What did you do today?)
Ate cupcakes, watched dragons, read Curious George, well...played house with Sophie.
(How do you play house?)
Well, I'll be the husband, Sophia will be the wife.  We have kids and stuff.  That's how we play house.  We just go to church and we play.  We eat breakfast and go to bed and our kids take naps and we go to bed and all that stuff.  That's what we do.

That's it.  That's all I want to tell them.  [pointing]  That's what I want to tell them too!!!

That's the dragon I like.  That dragon of his is his friend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Off the Coke!

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Isn't it BEAUTIFUL? I've had a serious addiction to Coke for a while now. Correction. I had a serious addiction to Coke. I've been off of it for a month now. An entire Coke free month. Stopping cold turkey was incredibly painful, in all senses of the word. The headaches were horrid, the cravings were constant, I was crabby, uncomfortable, and in pain. But a month out, I can now say that I am no longer addicted to it. Sometimes I see it in the store and I remember how normal it was to drink it. It's placed in 12 different locations so I won't accidentally forget to pick some up. I never really noticed how many places it's located until I stopped drinking it. Then I felt like it was following me around the grocery store!

The bottom line is that Coke is just about the most unhealthy thing a person can consume. Aside from the caffeine, it is chock full of a large quantity of absolutely useless calories. I was not just addicted to the caffeine, but to the sugar.

I won't say that I feel wonderful and amazing because I stopped drinking Coke, but I feel much better. I'm more awake, I'm able to think more clearly, and I'm finally able to lose some weight. Most importantly, it isn't controlling me anymore.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Battlestar Galactica

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 Chris likes to bring home videos once in a while.  He likes me to watch them with him.  The problem is, I don't really like watching TV.  It gets even more interesting when he brings home a science fiction flick.  Sometimes I watch them.  I decided I'd give Battlestar Galactica a try.  I actually know absolutely nothing about this show.  It has some history, I guess it's been remade a few times.  The one we watched was from 2004.  

Some of the content in this version screams Star Wars.  The acting isn't too bad and after getting past the very confusing beginning, the story is easy enough to follow.  I told Chris I'd watch the next few just to see what happens.  I was sad to learn that a character I like is actually a sleeper Cylon.  Or is she a sleeper?  Who knows!

There's some really weird religion going on in this show, and some pretty blatant references to the zodiac signs.  At the beginning of the series you are introduced to the planet "Caprica" and told there are 11 others.  Of course, there is a 13th secret planet that has been hidden from knowledge.  Battlestar Galactica obviously knew about the addition of the 13th zodiac sign before everybody else. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pajama Day

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We had a busy weekend.  Visits from my parents and then from Chris' mom and sister last night.  The kids had the best time visiting and playing, as always.  I feel a little bad for them when they wake up after so many fun filled days and find just me!

Today was a pajama day.  Sophia and Isaac both woke up with noses running.  It's pouring down rain and it's cold.  Not to mention the fabulous behavior the children have been displaying today.  It's at times like these when I think to look to the moon cycle chart and see when we should be expecting odd behavior.  Sure enough, January's full moon is due tomorrow.  Ah, it all makes sense. 

So we stayed in, made bread, and wore our pajamas all day.  It was wonderful! 
Hopefully this was our only funky day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Shadow of Dr. King

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I was listening to Dr. King's speech today as I was running errands in the car.  It's impossible to miss.  I always enjoy the speech - I love the passion and truth that he brings.  Several things stuck out to me that I hadn't noticed before.  The first was his mention of standing in the shadow of Lincoln.  I thought that was interesting.  When I think back on recent history, it is not Lincoln who's shadow I perceive.  It is men and women like Dr. King.  

The second thing that struck me was this excerpt: 

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
 The "security of justice" was particularly troublesome to hear.  Having worked in correctional facilities and seen the disproportionate number of African American men and women, I believe we can say that the check bounced.  There are a lot of components to this issue, but the disparities in the justice system are deep and painful.

And this:

"...for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone."

As part of the Body of Christ we understand this.  It is as normal as breathing.  We cannot walk alone, we need the other parts of the body, regardless of our differences. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Learning to Cook

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The Best Make-Ahead Recipe
I grew up in a house with a great cook.  I never really paid much attention to how my mom actually cooked though, and I feel very limited in my abilities.  At the beginning of our marriage, Chris did most of the cooking.  But as we transitioned to me staying home and him working full time after he finished school, it seemed that I should take over this area.  Over the past few years, I've stolen a lot of recipes from the good cooks I know.

Thankfully for me, my sister in law Katie and her husband moved here around the time I was starting to learn.  Katie is a great resource for me.  She answers all of my really stupid cooking questions and gives me great ideas for recipes.  She gave me this book for Christmas.  Last night I finally got it together and made my first recipe from the book, at her recommendation, called Beef Tamale Pie.  It was GREAT!  And it wasn't very hard either.  This book is designed for making things ahead and gives directions for refrigerating and freezing.  I was able to bake half of this recipe and put the other half in the freezer!  I'm going to get going on a real plan for making and freezing ahead.  I think the 30 day option is a little much for us, but I'm going to work on a 2 week make ahead schedule.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Me don't WANT to!"

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Who can guess what bothers me most about this statement?

It came from the mouth of my very willful, obstinate 2 year old. The fact that it is defiant annoys me. It is her way though, so I work with her. The thing that bothers me most is the grammar. The child uses "me" in the place of "I" every single time. I understand that this is normal. However, Sophia is not particularly interested in being corrected. I correct her each and every time, and make her repeat it to me using the proper pronoun. I believe that she is capable of correcting her language, but just doesn't feel the need.

We don't watch much Sesame Street here, and I'm glad. The biggest offender in the use of improper singular pronouns:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Operation Fat Boy

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Is about to commence. I took the boys in for their well checks today - Eli for his 4 year and Isaac for his 15 month. Eli is doing great, he gained 4 1/2 pounds in the last year and grew 3 inches! This from my picky eater! He proudly showed the nurse that he could jump on 1 foot and counted to 10 perfectly. I was a proud mama!

Isaac is another story. He took a running leap right off the bottom of the growth chart. He has always been small, but falling off the bottom is not a good thing. He is my good eater, so it's concerning that he isn't gaining with adequate nutrition. So we are now running "Operation Fat Boy." We need to get this boy back on the chart, at least, and have a little padding ( that pun?) just in case it happens again. Isaac's iron levels looked great, so we are no longer concerned about anemia. Developmentally he is doing really well, meeting all of his markers. Pray for his little leg and arm, he didn't take his shots very well and I doubt he will forgive the nurse.

As always, taking 3 kids to the doctor's office was a bit stressful, so I got some Starbucks afterward. I love that stuff!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We meet again

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I've had an embarrassing number of guitar lessons in my life. As an undergraduate I took group guitar lessons for several semesters, then took private lessons with a great teacher for several more. I became functional. I played for a while, never anything past the basics. I took a specific course for worship leaders, and even played for a retreat once. But I just never felt like I could excel at this instrument. I could always get to proficient, but after a while that gets really old.

Jeff asked me to start attending a small group focused on basics at church. We meet again. I wasn't very excited about the idea of revisiting this for another time. I picked up my guitar, and the muscle memory is still there. I can finger the cords correctly (and calluses) and I can strum. I can sing. It's just not all that great. Here's praying for a better outcome this time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Me vs. the Pan

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I have an enameled cast iron skillet that does a great job.  It looks like this:
Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 9-Inch Skillet with Iron Handle, Red
Isn't that nice?  It's super heavy, but I like using it.  I recently learned that if you cook vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet at higher heats, whether it's enameled or not, it sticks.  It STICKS.  This little skillet had a cooked on sticky, black coating that would not budge.  I tried baking soda, vinegar, heating it up and scrubbing, scratch pads, Magic Eraser, copper scratch pads, tulle, and tons of soap.  Chris told me I should just throw it out.  The thrifty (CHEAP!!!) person in me screamed.  There must be a another way!

While visiting, Rita mentioned that the pan would come clean if I sprayed oven cleaner in it.  Oven cleaner seemed extreme, but I had tried everything else.  And it worked like magic!  I did have to do repeated treatments, but it's brand new.  So don't cook vegetable oil in cast iron, and if you do and it gets stuck, use some oven cleaner.  Thanks Rita!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

No More Nursery

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Last night was Eli's first time in the 4 - 7 year old classroom at church!  I have been taking him to the nursery for 4 years.  It was strange to walk him down to the area where all of the bigger kids were having worship - and leave him.  I was a little sad about it.  He, however, was not the least bit sad.  He was so excited to be there with all of his older friends, especially the very famous Anna!

The teachers reported that he was well behaved, though a tad bit focused on the Play Doh.  I am a very proud of him.  With each little step he becomes more independent.  Him leaving the nursery was actually a huge step for me! 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Friday, January 7, 2011


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Nap time, and bed time, are issues.  Not with the boys, especially Isaac.  He lays in bed with his binkie and blanket and is just as happy as can be.  Eli protests, but he will generally lay quietly.  Sophia though...she is in it for a fight.  Every night. 
I'm red, she's green.  She's thirsty.  Then her nose is running.  She needs a tissue.  Eli gets her one.  She loses it and needs another.  She needs a baby doll.  She doesn't like that baby, she want's ANOTHER baby.  On and on. The child is stubborn to a fault, which is admittedly a quality she probably received from me, but it is still aggravating.

Any ideas are WELCOME.