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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

S.O.U.L. Cards

S.O.U.L., which stands for Shine On Us Lord, is part of the SOUL Light Link Ministry in Quito, Ecuador. It is a card making ministry run by women in prison there. I first learned of this ministry a few years ago when a missionary came and talked to us about her work with the women in prison there, and I'd like to share it with you.

From my missionary contact:
"Women in prison and on parole make the cards so they can have money to live on. Nothing is provided for them in the system here and so without work the situation becomes very bad as you can guess. How does a woman get money when there is not even a blanket, personal items or anything provided? Whatever your mind comes up with is true! So women make cards and we sell them and with the money they are able to live. [The women] who make the cards are foreigners who attend our Bible Studies and most of whom have found new life and freedom in Jesus."

The cards are all handmade and hand lettered and are beautiful. On the back of each packet is a little information about the ministry. They are sold in packets of 5 cards for $10. This is one of the cards I had purchased from them in the past. It is hard to see the detail, but I assure you it is beautiful. The designs and sayings are varied, and they are usually blank inside.

Many of these women are solely dependent on the sales of these cards for basic needs for daily living, such as food, soap, and toilet paper. If you are interested in buying a packet of cards to support this ministry and help these women earn money in an honorable way and stay on a path that is pleasing to the Lord, please leave a comment or contact me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

3 Month Pictures

We're still not on a schedule or sleeping through the night, but we're trying to enjoy every minute, which is easier when she smiles with those big eyes!
My first child to not take a pacifier at all, and she doesn't suck her fingers either.
She is starting to find her hands to chew on her fists (or bib) and she loves to kick her feet up in the air and grab for them. She's as sweet as can be, don't you agree?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Excuse This House

This poem hung in our house as I was growing up, and I've always liked it. I now have it hanging in my house as well. Click on the image to make it bigger and easier to read.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

NEW Email Subscription

Wow! I've had a hard time of it, but I finally got a FeedBurner subscription box posted on my blog. For those of you who would like to subscribe to my blog via email, you can now do so.

Things are still a little "buggy", but underneath the labels on the right side you will find "Subscriptions". You can then choose whether to subscribe via RSS with a reader (like Google or Yahoo) or you can enter your email address in the little box. FeedBurner will ask you to enter a code, then you will get a confirmation email. After that is said and done, hopefully every time I post something new, it will go directly into your email or reader.

Please let me know if you have trouble with either of these options, and thanks for your patience!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Locks of Love

H has always had very long hair. She likes it that way, and her daddy really loves her long hair, too. He decided that it would be okay to cut it if she was doing it for a good cause, so for many months we have been talking about Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children who are suffering from long-term or permanent medical hair loss. When we told H that some little girls don't have any hair, she loved the idea of sharing her hair with a little girl. Hair donations must be at least 10 inches long.

We decided to put off cutting her hair until summer, but then baby F was born, and it was probably too much change at once, because H changed her mind and wanted to keep her long hair. That's fine, we said. We love your long hair.

Last week she brought it up again.
H: "Mommy, I want to cut my hair short."
J: "Why, honey? Don't you like your long hair anymore?"
H: "Yes, I DO like my long hair, but I want to share it with a little girl who doesn't have any hair."

We waited to see if she would change her mind, but this time she didn't. Several times this week she'd ask when we were going to cut her hair. I'd ask her why and she'd repeat the above conversation. She was ready and she really wanted to do this.

After I cut her ponytail off, she felt it and said, "Ooo, it's soft. A little girl is really going to like this hair."

She went to the mirror to check out her new 'do. I told her that she looks pretty with short hair and with long hair, but even prettier is her heart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Save Your Diaper Receipts!!

Raise your hand if you buy diapers...and raise two hands if you buy diapers for more than one child like we do! I just found out about something FANTASTIC! I SO wish I had known about it before! Oh, you probably want to know what it is, don't you?The Caregivers Marketplace strives to ease some of the financial burden of caring for a loved one. This could be someone with diabetes or mobility issues, or even incontinence, which is where we come in. When you buy any of their approved products, from ANY store, save your receipt and mail it in to them for a partial rebate for those products. This is where being loyal to a certain brand of diapers will pay off, because Huggies and Pull-Ups are the only diapers that are approved. :-) You get $1 back for each pack of diapers you have a receipt for! This makes the recent price hikes for diapers a little easier to swallow.

Go to their website to check out which brands are approved. Then click on "Enroll" to sign up online, saving you some time. Then gather up your receipts and print out their "Cash Back Form". Fill it out with your new savings number and send it in with your receipts, then wait for your check! I went digging and was able to find receipts for 25 packs of Huggies and Pull-Ups that I have bought this year. Woo Hoo! That's $25 I didn't have before, enough for Hubby and I to go on a date! (in 4-6 weeks, after we receive the check, that is....Ooo, the anticipation!)

Thanks to Denise at The "Cent"sible Sawyer for sharing this tip! I know I'll be a little happier diapering my babies' bottoms from now on!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scripture Memory

How do you teach your kids how to memorize Scripture? As adults, it can be difficult to memorize, but kids are like sponges and can soak it up pretty easily with repetition. Our kids are in AWANA programs that require them to memorize one or more verses per week. We enjoy using music to memorize verses, and our favorite CD set is 100 Verses Big Kids Can Sing & Know from Wonder Kids Worksop. It is 3 CDs for $9.99 and has just about every verse you can think of and more sung by kids (but not annoying kids!). Many of the AWANA verses are included, and the verses are in the NIV translation. We play these CDs in the car and it's really easy to learn the verses as you sing along to catchy songs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Free Scott Toilet Paper

I know some people don't like requesting a bunch of free samples they will never use, so I don't post all the free samples I come across. However, this one was too practical to pass up. All of you use toilet paper, right? (I hope so, though I've learned that not everyone does, as I mentioned in my earlier post.)

Anyway, if your family does use toilet paper, as mine does, maybe you'll appreciate a free full-size roll of Scott Extra Soft Bath Tissue. Hurry, only while supplies last! And maybe if you don't use toilet paper, you'll request one anyway, since it is free, after all!

Monday, August 18, 2008

What a DAY!

Have you ever had one of those days? It all started normal enough...

We had breakfast, I started schoolwork with H and M wanted in on the action too. I helped her some with her "workbook", then left her to color while I helped H. M got marker on her fingers and that bothers her (I have girly girls, remember?). So I lifted M up to help her wash her hands, and while lifting her back down, one hand slipped so most of her weight was on one arm. I heard a crack and immediately thought she had fractured her arm. Of course I prayed that wasn't so, and everything looked normal, but after holding and consoling her for 10 minutes, it was apparent that something wasn't right. She was holding her arm and crying quite a bit. So to the doctor's office we went, calling Ted to meet us and canceling our plans for the day. The doctor looked it over and decided it was probably nursemaid's elbow, (kind of like pulling the elbow out of the socket) so she did a simple reduction. We waited to make sure M was okay, and sure enough, that did the trick. She's been fine ever since, using her arm normally and even putting weight on it 10 minutes later. We praise the Lord that it wasn't something more serious!

I thought that was enough excitement for one day, but apparently not...

Right after lunch, the girls asked me to chase them. Squeals of laughter filled the house until the inevitable happened. You guessed it: a collision! G and M smacked right into each other. Now this happens from time to time, but of course, today being "one of those days", it was more than just a bump. M's forehead hit G's cheekbone just right and immediately G had a black eye and quite a swollen cheekbone. Another call was made to the doctor's office to make sure I didn't have to take her in. Her eye seems fine and the swelling has gone down quite a bit with ice, but she still has a shiner. Oh, what the nurses must be thinking about me today!

Now some of you who have boys or more active and adventurous girls may be saying, "sounds like a normal day to me". And the rational side of me says that accidents like this happen all the time. However, my girls aren't usually this prone to injury, and to have two things happen in one day by lunchtime, it's been quite a day of excitement for us!

Thankfully it is now nap time, so hopefully nothing will happen for the next hour!

Rod & Staff and Year-Round

We have officially started Kindergarten! I am using Rod and Staff's 1st grade curriculum for H, perhaps taking breaks if it gets too hard and supplementing with Five in a Row and other workbooks. I ended up choosing R&S for 3 reasons: no prep for me because of having 4 kids 5 and under (it is workbook based), Christian based (put out by Mennonites), and cheap (plus I got it on ebay for even cheaper!). Those three things were the most important for me, at least right now. With R&S, you just pull out the workbooks for the day. There are SOOOO many homeschool options it is ridiculous, really. I finally had to just pick something! I figure we'll try it, and if it doesn't work well, we'll switch and I'll sell it on ebay again! That seems to be what most homeschoolers do anyway. What's confusing to me is that a lot of people I know use like 3 different types of curriculum for 1 child per year (1 for reading, 1 for math, 1 for science, etc). Way too much work for me to look into right now! I just wanted to keep it simple so I chose 1 for all the subjects (which for 1st grade is Reading, Phonics, Penmanship, and Math--science and social studies start later). Maybe as I become more experienced with homeschooling, I'll start to refine what I do for each subject. Or maybe I'll just keep it simple if that works for my kids, I guess we'll have to see!

The reason we started school already is because I had been contemplating doing a revised year-round schedule. In some schools they have managed to fit more kids into the school building by having school year-round and only having 3/4 of the kids in the school at any one time. There are 4 different "tracks" (groups) of kids. 3 tracks are in school while the 4th is "tracked out" (on break). Their schedule is roughly 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Everyone gets 3 days at Thanksgiving and 2 weeks at Christmas. Teachers track out when their students do.

Obviously I don't have a school crowding issue, but this schedule appeals to me for a few different reasons. I do like having the summer off, but there is always going to be a certain amount of catching up that needs to occur to get back on track after such a long break. A lot of times in traditional school, the month of September is spent reviewing things from the past year and re-acclimating to being back in school and following a schedule again. Year-round avoids that with having shorter breaks. It also allows families to take vacations during off-peak times, which can also just be a benefit of homeschooling. I also thought it would be nice to be able to have shorter breaks throughout the year, for when we are both feeling a little burned out. Knowing that we have a break coming up soon might help us get over those humps. I won't follow the strict 9 on 3 off schedule (I started too late and I also would like some time off in the summer), so I'm working on tweaking it to fit our needs. I was wondering when to start when last Thursday morning H asked when Kindergarten was going to start. So I said, "today!" No time like the present, right?

I know some of you are homeschoolers, what schedule does your family follow? What are some of your thoughts on the year-round schedule, or a revision of it? I'd love to hear your comments!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

You can subscribe now

Now that my blog is public, if you are interested you can subscribe by clicking on the little button below the labels on the right side that looks like this one. This way you won't have to remember to check my blog, but will get updates every time I post something new. I have recently discovered Google reader, and I love it! It's like having a separate email box for my blog subscriptions. Now I don't have to remember to periodically check my friends' blogs. Instead, every time one of them posts something new, it all goes into my Google reader which I can see from my iGoogle home page (another cool thing Ted convinced me to try!). You need a gmail account to make an iGoogle page (it's free), but it isn't necessary to have a gmail account to subscribe to my blog. When you click the button below, a list will come up so you can choose how to subscribe. If you have any questions, let me know and I will try to help (read "I'll ask my husband and get back to you")!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Going Public

I've decided to go public with my blog. Ted and I have decided that for now, we'd rather not have our girls names in the blogosphere, beautiful as they are, so I will refer to them by their first initials. Since you all know them anyway, hopefully that won't be too confusing for you! We're overly protective and paranoid, I know, but bear with us! :-)

We went to the park this morning to enjoy this beautiful day God made! H has learned how to do the monkey bars by herself! She was so excited and I was so proud of her. G has learned how to pump on the swings and is equally excited that she can now swing side by side with her big sister. They were so precious today, in their matching shirts of course, swinging side by side at the same time with huge smiles! Oh how I wish I'd had the camera to capture such a sweet moment. M found the courage to climb the rock wall and slide down the big slide. She's tentative, but wants to be a big girl like her sisters. Don't grow up too fast, girl!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Be My Witnesses

" will be my witnesses..." Acts 1:8

I caught the last few minutes of a sermon by Pete Briscoe yesterday in which he was talking about us being witnesses for Jesus Christ. He said that Jesus is still on trial today in a hostile world, and that we are His defense witnesses. Scary? Not when you think about what a witness is supposed to do:

  1. Speak only what you know
  2. Share what you have seen and heard--that's what a testimony is, how He has changed your life
  3. Answer questions truthfully and honestly
  4. Be a character witness--affirm Christ's character
  5. Answer cross-examination--be prepared to give an answer for your faith (1 Peter 3:15)
I thought he did a good job breaking down the expectations of a witness. It's not so scary when you think about it. And as Christians, that's what we're called to do. So go ahead, put me on the witness stand!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All You

I have never heard of this magazine before, but this month it is worth checking out! All You is found at Walmart, and though it says $1.97 on the cover, it was $1.77 at my store. It is packed with coupons! The best deals are on page 115 and 159. On page 115 there is a coupon for $1 off Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Blueberry Muffin Cereal. This could be a good deal for you if you can find a box that has a yellow "Try Free" mail-in rebate like this one:

Mail in for the rebate and you make money, even after the stamp! On page 159 there are coupons for free Kraft salad dressing ($1.58), free Crystal Light drink mix ($2.98), free Wheat Thins ($3.48), free hot dogs ($1.50), and free Kraft cheese singles ($2.98) with the purchase of 3 Kraft items each. What makes this a good deal is that one packet of Kool-Aid (about 20 cents) is 1 Kraft item (it's not single serve, since it makes several servings), so if you buy 15 packets of Kool-Aid for a total of about $3.00, you'll get the 5 items above ($12.52 value at my store) for free! Okay, not totally free, since you had to buy the magazine and the Kool-Aid, but you spend $4.77 and get an additional $12.52 of product free. To me, that makes the magazine worth buying!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Huggies Clean Team Wipes

Here's another great deal! Unfortunately I don't have any coupons for you to print off, but if you are on the Huggies mailing list, keep your eyes peeled for the $3 off 2 Huggies Clean Team products. At Walmart you can get a soft-sided pack of flushable wipes for $1.64, which makes them 14 cents each after coupon! In my store these were in the beauty section, near the razors and pantyliners and shampoo. Another great item we're stocking up on for the Christmas shoe boxes!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Johnson's Buddies Soaps

I had to pass this deal on to you! There are several coupons online that you can print out to use for Johnson's Buddies Soaps. The coupons are either $1 off 1 or $2 off 2. These soaps are regularly 94 cents at Walmart (and 99 cents at CVS). After the coupon, you get these for free! They are bars of melon scented soap in a bright green casing that makes the soap last longer and less slippery for little hands. I have been buying as many of these as I can get coupons for because I think they are a perfect addition to the shoe boxes we put together for Operation Christmas Child and local shoe box collections. Here is a list of coupons to print off for the Buddies Soaps (which I found with the baby items). Be sure to click and print off each coupon twice (which is the limit on each coupon). I hope they all work for you!

- $1/1 Johnson's Buddies here (this might be the same one as above?)

- $2/2 Johnson's No More Tangles Shampoo & Conditioner products, or Johnson's Buddies products here

Now is also the perfect time to be stocking up on school supplies for cheap to put into those shoe boxes. Good ideas to include are markers, pens, pencils (and sharpeners!), crayons, pencil boxes, small notepads, scissors, glue sticks, etc. I gather and save everything and then the girls help us assemble the boxes when it's time. They are usually due before Thanksgiving, so we fill ours on October 31st, a new family tradition.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mommy Brain

How do you explain "Mommy Brain" to a 5 year old? Today while I was making lunch H asked for some peaches. I told her peaches were a good idea and continued getting lunch together, rushing to get it on the table before F (the baby) woke up so that hopefully I could eat too (high hopes, I know). A few minutes later, we all sat down and prayed to eat. I then lifted my fork to my mouth and H said, "Mommy, I thought you were going to get us some peaches." I replied, "Oh, right. Sorry, honey, I forgot." She then said, almost under her breath, "Mommy, you need to learn some responsibility." WHAT?! She's kinda right, when we are perpetually forgetful, we should learn responsibility, but where does she get this stuff?

I was telling a friend this morning that I am always multi-tasking. With 4 kids 5 and under, I have to be. There's always several balls that I have to keep up in the air, and occasionally I drop one (like the peaches). I blame it on "Mommy Brain", which is partially true and not altogether surprising, but unfortunately it happens more frequently these days. Last week H said to me in a sad voice, "Mommy, you're not listening to me anymore." Ouch. Too many balls in the air. Time to drop them and take the time to listen.

While I was running errands this morning, Jill Briscoe was talking about listening. Really listening. It seems all these things are coming together today, which is never a coincidence!

God, thank you for giving me ears to hear. Help me to use them to listen.
Thank you also for children who bring us back to our knees.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ergo Baby Carrier

I love my new Ergo Carrier! Like most newborns, baby F likes to be held most of the time, and prefers we be standing up and moving constantly as well, thank you. I was also wanting a carrier that we could use when we go to Disney World, and it had to be comfortable enough to carry a heavier baby in for hours at a time. A friend of ours has an Ergo and let us borrow hers to see if we liked it, and we were sold!

What do I like about it? It has wide, padded shoulder straps and a wide waist belt, so it really is comfortable to wear. Infants lay in it sideways with their feet to one side, and older kids sit in it with their weight resting on their bottom, not hanging from their crotch (I've always thought that must be terribly uncomfortable!). You can carry kids up to 40 pounds in it, so I've tried it with M (age 2), G (age 3 1/2) and even H (age 5) on my back like a piggy-back ride. It doesn't pinch their legs and they all really enjoyed it! It has an attached sleeping hood that can also be used as a sunshade, which comes in very handy when you forget to bring baby's hat to the park with you (phew!). We've walked around with F in the carrier for a couple hours at a time in the hot sun and she doesn't get sweaty and overheated. If anyone is in the market for a carrier, I highly recommend it!

Free Country Bob's Sauce

Country Bob's is an all-purpose sauce that you can use in so many ways! It is similar to barbecue sauce, so we have used it on our ribs. We just smear the ribs with it and bake them, then use a little extra on the side for dipping. SO easy and very good!
Would you like to try a FREE bottle? Country Bob's will send you a coupon to try it for free! Go here to sign up. Bonus: They are a Christian company! :-)

Friday, August 1, 2008


H: "M, do you want some Chris Rice-pies for breakfast?" (Rice Krispies)

No one else was phased, but it brought a smile to my face because Ted really likes Chris Rice's music!

I also wanted to write down that M's favorite words are "Noona" and "Meela". "Noona" is how she says "luna", the Spanish word for moon, but she also just likes to walk around saying in a sing-song voice, "Noona, Meela, Noona, Meela."

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