Monday, June 29, 2009

Berries Galore

So these were used for snacking and eating...

and then eating them with cream (of course)
for freezer jam...

and for watermelon/strawberry lemonade...

Thank you, God, for SUMMER!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's That Time Again....

Strawberry season is here!!

Friday, June 26, 2009


I am in the last couple of days of my maternity leave. Next Tuesday I am back doing my "other" job, and trying to get life back to "normal". It's interesting how I'm feeling now about next week than what I felt six weeks ago, and it started with a simple conversation with some friends.

When R was newly born, we were chatting with friends, and I mentioned how quickly the six weeks were going to fly by, and it just wasn't enough time. My friend looked at me and said, "Aw, don't look at it that way. Try to see it as you get six great weeks with your family."

It may seem like a simple statements, but it hit me right between the eyes. My friend probably doesn't even remember saying it. I believe that was God speaking those words to me, and that conversation has come to my mind often since then. I love it that God has put people around me that speak life.

Sometimes God has to remind me that life is about perspective. For example, I have compared my maternity leave with others' - the three months, the paid leave, the six months, others even longer. I could live the six weeks dreading work and complaining about it, or enjoy those weeks even more.

Of course this applies to other areas of my life (which is why it hit me so hard) - that yes, there are some things that I had wish had been done differently over the years. I have dwelt upon those things, when many times I have missed the blessings that have come from those moments. Or maybe I should have just looked at it a little differently?

I'm probably rambling, so forgive me if this post doesn't make much sense. Maybe I should sum it up and say God is good to hit us between the eyes once in a while. He does it with much love. I am praying that I become a person who speaks life to others, and not negativity or death.

So here I am, a couple days out from returning to work. I am at peace about next week - not necessarily looking forward to it, but ready for it. It was God who put that peace there, and it's good. And He's good.

Thank you, Father, for peace that passes understanding
And thank you for those who speak life
And for the right perspective

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June's Budget

This was the first month that L and I followed our "new" budgeting system that we created. It was pretty successful for the most part - we only went over our grocery budget a little bit. This is impressive considering we had pretty much eliminated dining out (minus a couple quick meals, and one date night equipped with a paid babysitter).

I think the biggest thing that helped our budget was meal planning. We planned all of our meals around what was on sale, and worked hard to create meals with what we had in the house. I made a lot of substitutions on recipes - some worked, some didn't. Also, since there's a new babe in the house, simple meals were the focus.

Speaking of new babe, we pretty much dreaded any dining out with two kiddos, so that was good incentive for avoiding restaurants. Nothing like a crying babe and a demanding toddler to simplify living, right?

So overall, we spent less in spending than we do typically, and stayed pretty close to our grocery budget. Still, I think we could have done a little better as far as stretching meat and using even more ingredients that we had in the house. We'll see. I don't feel like I sacrificed on produce, though this month we'll focus more on the farmer's markets, so we should incorporate more fresh ingredients in our meals.

Let's hope that even with me returning to work next week (yikes!), the budget will continue successfully.

Praise of the Day:
That our God provides

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

White Bucket Project

I enjoy Rob Bell, and enjoyed going to Mars Hill when I lived in Grand Rapids. I recently listened to a podcast called "Bread and Buckets"... I was in tears at the end. They have started the "White Bucket Project", which started at this church service. They asked those in the church who had extra money to put it in white buckets that were placed throughout the building. They then asked those who were in need to take money out of the bucket.

Pretty amazing, using Acts 2 as an example. Check it out. While you're there, he is now doing a series on forgiveness ... very powerful and timely.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daddy's Day Post

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since L and I became parents. Actually, it's just hard to believe that we're parents altogether. :) If there's one thing I've learned in the last month since R was born (can you believe it's been a month already?), it's how much I appreciate how much L does for his family. He works hard all day to provide for his family, and then comes home and plays/works hard with his family. He immediately sits with E and reads her stories, takes her outside so I can cook dinner, hold R if need be.

E has certainly become a Daddy's girl, and it's great seeing their relationship grow together. She'll often ask to snuggle with L on the couch, and she'll want him to go outside with her. She just wants to be with him, doing whatever he's doing, part of the fun. And L is great at including and letting her just be who she is. I've learned so much watching him parent her.

And now we have a little guy in our lives, and I'm looking forward to seeing L and R develop their own relationship. God blessed our kiddos with a pretty great Dad, and me with a great partner that is by my side supporting me.

Happy Father's Day, L! We love you!!

There's Nothing Like a Beach Day

We live in a pretty small town and so it's easy to complain about the lack of options in pretty much everything here. Sometimes we scratch our heads wondering why so many people travel here for the summer, when it's so small and there are so many other more exciting places to see. Something that we do love about our town (and apparently thousands of others do too) is the number of beaches it offers. We're surrounded, and it would be silly of us to stay home on warm days when we're just a mile or two from one beach or another.

So far we've been to the beach every day this week - thanks to Summer finally showing up. Is the water cold? Oh yes... and yet, somehow kiddos don't seem to mind the frigid temps. Even with the cold water, there is nothing like going to the beach. I wish every day was a beach day, don't you?

Thank you, God, for enjoyment.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, Hello Compost Bin

You know, now that we're in a house, one of the first things we (I) wanted to do was set up a compost bin. Maybe there's a little bit of my father's blood in me (he's a big gardener), but I've been talking about it for two months now.

Composting is great for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's a great way to reduce landfill waste. It's a simple frugal way for us save a little of money, as we pay per trash bag and it creates free potting soil for us to use. Lastly, it's a great and easy way to show a little love for your garden, lawn, etc.

We decided to go the simple route in making a compost bin, because we're newbies. We used this guide, and it was incredibly easy and cheap to do. It cost us less than $10 to get started!

It's amazing how many items can be put in your compost bin! Here's a great list that covers what can and can't be used. I am already thinking that this is really going to reduce our landfill consumption - yay!

On a completely off topic, but in the spirit of my last post on gratitude, here's my ongoing list:

4. Smiling babes
5. A great worship service yesterday
6. That I still have two weeks to be home with both kiddos.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I think R just might be a morning person like his mom. He's a great alarm clock - every morning around 5 am, he's wide awake. Now I don't like getting up that early, but what can you do, right? Still, mornings are good. Really good.

And boy, I really love sunshine-y summer mornings. I wish I could bottle the birds chirping, the cool breeze, the sun peeking through the trees and just have it with me whenever I am feeling a little down, or during the long winter months.

I'm learning more and more how blessed I am, even in the simple things like sunshine. An old journal of mine used to keep a log of everything I was thankful for, and I'm going to start that here - to remind myself of how good God is. So here goes:

1. Thank you, God, for mornings like this, even if I didn't want to get up that early.

2. And I'm thankful for an old friend who listened to me vent about an difficult situation I'm dealing with, and found she was dealing with something similar.

3. Of course, I'm thankful for my little alarm clock, even if 5 am is early even for this morning person.

What are you guys thankful for today?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Summer Looks Like

Eating watermelon outside...

Laying in the sun

Kabobs on the grill

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And One More Thing

Since I love frugality, easy meals, and um, garlic (in fact, I did four cloves, but used chicken thighs instead), here's what we're having for dinner tonight:

Oh, and hey, check out this post on cloth diapers. Food and diapers probably aren't the best topics to combine together, but they are related. :) I forgot how many diapers newborns go through - thank God for cloth!

And yes, two posts in one day signals very good naps from my two lovely babes. :) Yay!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Getting In the Mindset

So I'm halfway through with my maternity leave, and have decided it's time to start preparing to go back to work. Six weeks is not enough time to have off, in my opinion, but R and I have had "the talk", and we've (I've) decided that he needs to start sleeping through the night by then. So we'll see if he holds up his end of the bargain.

I've started pumping to have some sort of milk stash for daycare, and already I seem to produce more milk than I was able to pump for E. I have no idea how much is a good "beginner's stash" for a part time job, but more is probably better than not enough, so we'll keep going. A friend of mine told me that she stopped breastfeeding in November, but had enough freezer milk to last until March. That's a lot of milk.

L got me a fancy medela hands free pump ("free" from our insurance co), and it's a lot better than my previous pump. I don't really see myself going "hands free", since I'm not sure what other tasks at work I could do while I'm being sucked dry of milk in my car. But who knows.

We've been talking to E a little bit more about R going to daycare with her, but she's not loving that idea yet. I

And in order to prepare for my return to work, I plan on putting together some freezer meals that I can pull out and pop in the oven. I have a feeling that the transition in the evenings will be quite busy, so making dinner may not happen some nights with a nursing babe and a busy toddler. Any good summer time freezer meals (is that possible?) would be appreciated.

I was dreading the thought of returning to work, but I'm more confident that it'll be okay now that we've had a few weeks under our belt. The bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler have finally hit home at L's company, and so things have been pretty slow, forcing the co. to cut back in a lot of areas. My income certainly doesn't/wouldn't replace L's, but it's a good supplement for extra savings. We're not that nervous (yet), but have just certainly decided to put our extra frugal hats on, just in case.

Anyway, there's a crying kiddo laying next to me, probably begging to be fed (he gained a pound in two weeks, and think he's going through another growth spurt again... yikes!).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some Good Things....

how my kiddo insisted on playing outside

1. Baby Carriers. It's made my life so much more convenient with two kiddos thus far, especially with E wanting to go outside all. of. the. time.

2. It's supposed to be 75 degrees today. Finally. I'm tired of cold.

3. All of my plants are still alive. That's very good news considering my track record.

4. L, his sister, and our brother in law bought tickets to South Africa. This is mostly good news for him and not really for me, b/c I'll be at home with two kiddos for a couple of weeks, but still, it's exciting that he gets to go.

5. I'm going to run another 5K (in the fall) to ensure that I get the motivation to exercise, and to make sure the rest of this baby weight falls off. I know it's only been three weeks, but still...

6. I slept in until 8 am. Little R's been up at 5 or 6 am since his birth, ready for the day. Considering I'm getting up two or three times a night to nurse, getting up at the crack of dawn has been difficult. So yay E, R, and me. :)

7. We've decided to hold off on putting hardwood in our house, and redoing the cabinets, and I feel pretty great and relieved about that decision. We have a million smaller projects and my student loans to get rid of, and we only use cash.

8. E's language skills are crazy right now. She's saying four and five word sentences... seriously, does having a little brother make you instantly grow up?

9. We finally got our budget organized post house and baby. I'm not organized in any other area of my life, but I like to know exactly where my money is going.

10. Open windows and sunshine streaming in... even if E thinks it's still playtime during her nap.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Wish I Had...

The past few weeks that I've been home, I haven't thought about my outside job... my mind's been a little preoccupied with two ones of my own. Even so, it seems it can't escape me for very long. After church we had a couple of errands to run, and a client saw me. I never know how to act when I see a client with all of the confidentiality issues, and we were taught to wait until the person approaches you.

My job is a little different, and most families don't care if others know I come to see them. Still, you never know, so I played dumb until he came up to me, beaming. His wife just had baby on R's due date. He pulled me over to see the new babe, and show off how great of a big sis the girl I see has been. Mom and I exchanged our "war stories". Dad introduces himself to L, and L introduces E and R. We chat and then move on.

Today my boss came over to see R and E, bearing gifts, which E gladly opened. She explained that while she was getting ready to leave our client's house, they received a call stating the grandfather had lost his battle with cancer. We both processed how up and down our job can be.

So life and death. One home is filled with joy. The next, sorrow. It reminded me to thank God for the health of my family and friends, and the joy we are experiencing with a new babe. And it made me cringe to think that could easily be us, receiving that dreaded call about one of our parents. Perhaps it seems a little more fresh, as we know that L's parents are in Ireland, spreading the ashes of L's grandfather.

We complain about driving to TC to see family sometimes. And now I'm thankful that we're close enough to make that drive and see them on a semi-regular basis. I'm glad that we have great parents who love our kiddos to death, and would do anything for us. And hopefully they know how much we appreciate all they've done for us, and hope our kiddos will have the same appreciation for us when they are our age.

I guess this is sort of a dark post on a beautiful sunny day here, and really, it's not meant to be. Maybe it's just more of a reminder to me to love the people I love, before it's too late, and all I have to say is, "I wish I had...."