Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doing the "Kermit the Frog" Thing

About a year and a half ago, a friend in my mom's group gave me a stash of cloth diapers. Having no clue how to use them or wash them, I started hanging out on a cloth diapering website, where I got bitten by the "green" bug. I discoverd a whole new world of simple and budget-friendly ways to go green. As a Christian, I believe we are called to be good stewards of the earth, and have made several simple lifestyle changes towards that end:

1. I use cloth....almost everything! I do NOT buy paper towels. I use old dish cloths for cleaning (they work so much better than paper). We use cloth diapers AND wipes. We use cloth wipes as Kleenex and face rags. (I just bought my first box of Kleenex in a year, but I had a coupon I couldn't resist!)

2. I make my own household cleaners using vinegar, baking soda, borax, and essential oils. This is better for my family's health (I clean the bathroom with my girls in the tub with no fear of harmful fumes), for my home, and waaaaay better on my wallet! Plus, I'm reusing two plastic bottles over and over instead of buying new ones all the time.

3. I don't flush every time I use the toilet. I know this may sound gross, but there are MANY times when my daughter uses the toilet and doesn't use tp; it seems a waste to flush then. Or overnight when I don't want to wake the peanut sleeping adjacent to the I save both water and sleep:)

4. We are converting slowly to energy-efficient light bulbs.

5. Did you know you're supposed to recycle ALL batteries? I save old batteries in a box til I have a bunch, then recycle them at my local battery store.

6. I recycle, recycle, recycle! In my pantry I have four garbage cans where I sort pop cans, tin cans and glass, plastic, and paper. These then get dumped into several large cans in the garage. When they fill up, my darling husband trucks them all to the recycling center.

7. I started composting this fall. I'm excited to try vegetable gardening again, and would love to do it organically. I tried vegetables last summer, but it was a monumental flop. I'll give it one more try:)

For more going-green ideas and giveaways check out and

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thinking Through Tuesday

With the advent of new leadership in our country, a collapsing economy, and feeling surrounded by a world bent on chasing pleasures and protecting evil, I've been feeling really insecure about the future; not necessarily my own, but the future of our nation. The future that my girls are growing up I receive email updates about President Obama's first actions in office (i.e. allowing tax dollars to fund abortions overseas), it's easy to become depressed by the state of our nation, and fearful of where it's going. Thankfully, God knows exactly where my soul is at, and provided me with a devotional focused on faith.

Which is exactly what I need to focus on, not on the state of the world, but on strengthening my knowledge that God is still and always in control.

The devotional sent me to Hebrews 11, where I found several inspiring and hope-filled passages:

"1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see... 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible...6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him...

[examples given]

13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. ..16...they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them... (emphasis mine)

[more examples]

32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength (emphasis mine); and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies..."

I encourage you to read the entire passage It's a fantastic reminder that from the beginning of time, God has been in control, and He is able to give us the power, even through our weaknesses, to conquer any hardship or circumstance. And at the end of it all, we have the knowledge that He has prepared a city for us that will be devoid of all the evil, financial stress, Godless governments, etc that plague my spirit now. In the meantime, I'll focus on having faith that " all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Lord, I thank you today for your Word to calm my spirit. I acknowledge your absolute power and control, far above all nations and governments. I ask that you blanket my soul with your peace that passes all understanding, that you honor your promise to work all things for my good, and that you help me to grow in faith and wisdom. Help me to raise children whose faith is greater than mine, equipping them to deal with anything their future holds. Give me a hunger for prayer; a desire to lift my nation and President to your throne. I ask this in Jesus name...Amen

Monday, January 26, 2009

Make it Monday

For Amelia's birthday last year, I decided to do a princess theme. I had seen an adorable castle cake in a magazine and got really ambitious. I spent an entire day (yes, the ENTIRE day) baking cakes from scratch (silly me), stacking, frosting, and adding candies and ice cream cones. In fact, I was in the kitchen so long, Amelia kept running over yelling "Supper's Ready!!!" Come on, after all that time, something had to be ready to eat, right? So this may end up being my first and last journey into homemade birthday cakes. Over a year later, I'm still exhausted at the thought, and Amelia got a store-bought cake this year. But you have to admit, it turned out pretty cool:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For the Skeptics

For those of you who think it's not worth it to sign up for giveaways, here's a list of what I've won in the past two weeks:

Super-cereals and other Webster's new additions

My youngest is starting to talk up a storm, and I'm really enjoying all the new words and phrases. Her favorites are "hereyago", "c'mere", "no", "tiiiiiiiight" (as in, these socks are too tight)and "snat" (snack). I was shocked when she picked up her I Spy book the other day and proceeded to name everything in the book (star, doggie, mouse, and lots more).

Amelia's vocabulary has also been growing. With her last set of ear tubes and her speech therapy, she's really been blooming. Her latest favorite phrase of mine is "super-cereal", wherein she puts on a blanket-cape and zooms around the room yelling "I'm a super-cereal, Mom!" She also just told me that she has "diarrhea boogers", which cannot be a good thing...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Saving Time

Following the Flylady routine saves me the most time (see previous blog entry for details), but another thing that saves me a LOT of time is to have a place for EVERYTHING. My home is filled with baskets...each type of toy has a designated basket (animals, cars, dolls, My Little Ponies, Little People, etc.), B and I each have a basket in the bathroom cabinet for our personal care items, Addie has several baskets for her cloth diapers (for wipes, soakers, longies, etc)... Before a holiday or birthday, I make sure the toy baskets are organized and ready for the inevitable onslaught of new toys. When everything has a place, it makes for easier and faster clean-up. What are your time-saving tricks?

Oops forgot to add the links:

Mom Time in '09 is still going on!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Knowing Where to Start" mothering devotional

I came across this little devotional today, and it felt really appropriate for where I'm at right now. Just yesterday I was thinking that it's taken me 4 years of motherhood to feel like I have any semblance of competence at it. I was feeling kind of down about it until I realized that in the long-term, 4 years of my mothering career is miniscule. It really has taken my life being turned upside down to jump-start my intentional mothering. B starting his new job after six months at home was the perfect opportunity for me to "restart" my daily routines. I'm still struggling through it, but finally feel like I have some sort of routine instead of just surviving through each day.

Knowing Where to Start
Renee Swope

“You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35 (NIV)

I was talking with friends who recently read my devotion about helping my son become a can-do-kid. One said she wanted to raise can-do-kids, but she didn’t know where to start. Another shared how she wished she enjoyed being a mom as much as I do.

The truth is, I haven’t always enjoyed being a mom. I didn’t start out as a can-do mom with can-do thoughts and can-do kids. In fact, my son’s “I-give-up attitude” that inspired my devotion earlier this month was probably inherited from me. I had stood on the sidelines of motherhood and declared, “I CAN’T” many times.

I would get so discouraged.Once my kids became toddlers who would not listen to me and obey like little robots, I panicked. I looked at other moms who seemed to know what they were doing and wondered, “What is wrong with me?” Their children listened when they told them no. Why wouldn’t my child keep his hands to himself in the grocery store or the toy isle? Why didn’t someone tell me this would be so hard?I often felt like a failure.I compared how I felt on the inside to how other moms looked like they had it all together on the outside. My feelings of inadequacy and thoughts of insecurity were held up in comparison to moms who dressed their children in matching outfits and adorned themselves with attitudes of grace and wisdom. I wondered how in the world they pulled it off with a smile? I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed, or get us out the door before lunch!I wanted to quit.

One day I came home from running errands with two tired, fussy toddlers. I put them down for a nap and searched for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it. I was going to hand my “pink slip” to my husband when he came home from work that day. It was just too hard, and I was tired of feeling like I would never measure up as a mom.

And that's where I started. I didn’t really start being a mom until the day I almost quit. Because that was the day I fell on my knees before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.” And in that place of surrender, it felt like God bent down on His knees before me and spoke to my heart: “You are right, Renee. In your own strength and through your own perspective, you cannot do this. But I am here with you. With my grace, my promises, my mercy, my presence, and my power – all things are possible. I will help you become a great mom.”That day reminded me of Psalm 19:35, “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great."It was a new starting place for me. When I acknowledged that on my own I was a mess, God came to my rescue. He showed me that with His gentleness, grace, wisdom and guidance, I could become the mom He was calling me to be, the mom my kids needed me to be, and the mom I wanted to be!

Dear Lord, I need Your shield of victory to protect me from discouragement. I pray that You would extend Your right hand to sustain me; Your grace to strengthen me; and Your wisdom to lead me. Thank You for Jesus, who stooped down to make me great because of Your great love for me. Today, I find a new starting place with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Me Time

Two of my favorite "mommy blogs" are featuring just-for-mom products during their "Mom Time in 09" giveaway. (See the button on my sidebar). In the spirit of "Mom Time" they've asked what we do to find Me Time.'s what I do!

1)I set aside time each night after the kids are in bed to read. I'm a voracious reader, putting 2-3 books a week under my belt. There's nothing I enjoy more than curling up and getting lost in a good book. I like any and all genres...mystery, suspense, science fiction, classics, inspirational...With the recent cold weather, I've been spending my book time in a hot bath (and dreaming of the day my refurbished clawfoot tub gets moved out of the garage and into my bathroom!)

2)Another thing I do is set aside time during Addie's nap to spend online. I really enjoy entering giveaways; it's exciting to me because I seem to win A LOT. Three things in the last two weeks alone! Plus I love finding out about new companies and products, especially those geared towards natural parenting. So I let Amelia have a little TV or movie time and sit down with my laptop and Diet Coke for about a half hour in the afternoons.

So what do YOU do to find Me Time? Or maybe you need to rededicate yourself to renewing your spirit every day. If so, let me know how you plan to accomplish that! And check out the links below to enter all the great mommy giveaways.

FLY through 2009

When Amelia was a baby, I found myself struggling to get into a working routine for taking care of her and the house without working myself to exhaustion. I did an online search for house-keeping and organizational tips, and found FLYlady. She has a website dedicated to helping people get into routines without succumbing to the bondage of perfectionism. FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself, and her routines help you do that by getting your home under control so you have time to play! Her website shows how to divide your home into Zones, concentrating on one zone a week. One day a week, you schedule a Home Blessing, which is a once-over through the whole house. She suggests you spend an hour doing this, working with 2 children underfoot it usually takes me 2, but that's the majority of my cleaning for the whole week. Then, once a day, she sends out an email mission for the zone of the week. Her motto is "You can do anything for 15 minutes" and that's all you should spend on that mission. She also recommends a load of laundry a day to keep from being buried under Mount Washmore, as well as establishing a few simple daily routines that maintain your clean home. And I could go on and on....I LOVE this website. If you'd like to learn more about Marla AKA Flylady, check out the article below or visit

Monday, January 19, 2009

Funky Monkey giveaways

I've already won something from the Funky Monkey (yay!) and today she has another giveaway that I could really use. It's a funky business card holder and key fob set, which I NEED as my Mr. J's Tackle cards are just floating around the diaper bag right now!

She's also giving away PiggyPaint, non-toxic nail polish for kids (or yourself)! I think this is a fabulous idea, and would be a great gift for that little girl in your life, or pregnant mom! I'm always especially paranoid about what I put on my body when I'm pregnant, and nail polish was one of those things I couldn't live without, but always made me a little nervous.

And enter to win a pack of SKOY towels. They're a great alternative to paper towels, and are made from natural materials so you can compost them when they wear out!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Giveaways, Sunday Edition

I love BabyLegs; they're especially wonderful for cloth diaper users as they only go thigh-high. Sign up to win a pair at Feisty, Frugal, and Fabulous

Sign up to win a really unusual bath product, Bubble Bath Dough. They are available on Etsy and have some really fun and unique scents.

These labels look really amazing. They can go on almost anything, and are dishwasher safe. I need to win these to label the girl's sippies...

And the absolute BEST giveaway of the day, possibly of the month, is the BumbleRide Indie Twin Stroller. B and I are hoping to have Baby #3 by EARLY next year, which would mean a nicer double stroller would come in really handy since I'll have three young ones at home. I love that this one comes with an infant seat adaptor and is really trim and maneuverable. Sign up for one here, but if you win this one instead of me I may have to hunt you down!

Enter to win this beautiful bracelet from Lady Lynne at All Because Two People Fell in Love. See her other designs here:

If you're a mom of young children who dreads those grocery store trips, you need to enter to win the Ontray, a fabulous invention that clips a small snack/toy tray to your shopping cart, keeping your child busily entertained or fed while you shop. It's even dishwasher safe and BPA-free! I may even need to just go ahead and buy one or two now that I have to tackle shopping "alone" again!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Baby is 4

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. She would say she's "this many"...which she's learned doesn't translate well over the phone. I know it's cliche, but I can't believe she's been a part of my life for four years (longer if you count from the moment I found out she existed). I've been praying little thankful prayers all day, thanking God for the opportunity to watch her grow, to feel her little arms around my neck each night before bed, to wash her curly hair, to work on her AWANA verses with her, and to talk to her about Jesus. I pray that He gives me the wisdom and strength to be the mom she deserves, the mom I was created to be. Sometimes I feel so exhausted by all the tasks that being a mom entails; it's good to stop and take a day to relish the accomplishment of four completed years. And I don't think I've screwed her up too badly yet...


My mom and I recently started on online store, where we sell wool and fleece cloth diapering covers. We've been designing and testing our items for MANY months, and finally started selling last month, after making a large investment in materials. In the last week, we've sold two items, which is very exciting. We're nearly out of things to sell!!! Sadly, on February 10th, we plan to close our store, as there is a new law coming into effect that would require us to send each item out for third-party lead testing, which would be too costly for most small businesses. If this law stays as-is, most small "hand-crafting" businesses will go out of business. Not only that, but with this law in effect, you will no longer be able to sell your used children's clothing and toys at a garage sale, and thrift stores will no longer be able to sell them, either, unless they send each item out for testing. It's very possible that starting in the next few months, we will no longer have the option of buying used clothing and toys for our children at all, forcing us to buy all new, which will be pricier due to the added expense of product testing. Please help spread the word on this issue and contact your lawmakers. Helpful links:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Resolution Update

I've been working on my resolutions for about a week and a half now, and for the most part feel pretty good about it. Today has been bad for TV, but the last week I've done really well at limiting to two short TV/movie sessions. I've been more consistent with my vitamins, too, trying to build up a good supply of Folate. Not doing so well on the devotions. In youth group -I'm a leader, not a youth:) - I committed to at least doing an online devotional every day, but am having trouble finding one I like, so if anyone has any links or suggestions, they'd be greatly appreciated. I know I'll most likely be online every day, so I figured doing an online study would fit well with my lifestyle.

And, a random note, my mom and I sold our very first item from our hyena cart shop. Check it out We are hoping to be able to stay in business after the February 10 children's safety laws come into place. My prayer is that the law will be modified to make it easier for handmade in the US items to be approved, while keeping stringent regulations on imported items.

I Won!

My goal is to win a giveaway a month, and today I got an email that I won a set of natural hand sanitizers and foaming hand soap from The Funky Monkey blog. Check out her other giveaways! And I don't know if this counts, but B won a bib embellished with "A" in Swarovski crystals. We're very excited to receive our goodies in the mail!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A few giveaways

Enter to win this ingenius product...every mother has played the drop-it-so-mommy-has-to-bend-over-and-pick-it-up-over-and-over game. Not anymore!

These are the cutest, funkiest socks I've ever seen. They're sold in coordinating packs of three, instead of pairs, because you'll inevitable lose a sock in the wash, and what fun is it to match anyway? Enter to win, and check out their website.

The Best Laid Plans

With the advent of a New Year, and a new job for B (read, major adjustment for me), I decided it was time to reinvent the routine around my house. I'm really good at keeping the house clean and organized (I follow the philosophy), but have been letting a lot of other things slide as life has been a little topsy-turvy. A few goals to work towards:

*limiting the girls TV time to when they first get up in the morning, and right after nap
*a planned activity every weekday (library story-time, arts and crafts, imaginative play, outside...something intentional that the three of us do together)
*workbook time with Amelia on days she doesn't have speech or AWANA
*some sort of work-out most days of the week (even 20 minutes on DDR, it doesn't have to be an hour-long ordeal)
*take my vitamins every day
*drink more water (I got a few stainless steel water bottles I need to use more)
*spend more time with God
*plan and prepare healthier meals for my family, and be consistent about encouraging the girls to eat their vegetables

There are also some things I started last year that I'd really like to continue:

*cloth diapers...I love that I don't need to spend money on diapers, and that I'm not adding Adeline's "toxic waste" to landfills
*knitting...I've really enjoyed learning to knit this year. I knit a scarf, a cloth diaper cover, and pants for Adeline, and would like to get some more pants/shorts done by summer.
*reusable shopping bags
*Mr. J's Tackle (I started working for my dad's new lure company in September, and am excited to continue as the business grows. Now that B has a job, I'll be able to relax and enjoy it more, since it's no longer our sole source of employment.)
*couponing and saving money (When I started budgeting and couponing a year and a half ago, I was spending about $900/month on groceries and household items. Last month, I spent $120. Granted, we are on WIC now and no longer purchase diapers, but that's still an unbelievable difference!)

Movie Review: Eagle Eye

B and I decided that we needed to take last night off (I'm a type A workaholic, which means I don't stop going until 11:30 most nights), so we rented a few movies. We ended up watching "Eagle Eye" with my parents, and we all give it our approval. I really enjoyed the fast-paced action (who doesn't like a great car chase ending with huge wreckers throwing cars around like toys) and unusual storyline. The plot is a cross between I, Robot and Enemy of the State, both movies I love. This is an action/suspense movie with a heart...the ending revolves around hard choices, and a few brave and unselfish acts from surprising sources. Definitely worth watching.

Disclaimer *There is some swearing in this movie, and a LOT of intense action.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Giveaways of the Day, Monday Edition

Once upon a time, the only soft-soled baby shoes to be found were Robeez, and if you could find a store that carried them, selection was often limited. I've discovered several more soft-soled shoes sites (say that five times fast) online, and on of the blogs I visit is giving away a pair from ShooShoos.

Enter here for a chance to win a wall quote!

I'm working on cutting back on our use of plastic, especially in the kitchen, and one great way to do this is to replace your plastic water bottles with stainless steel. I'd love to win one of these beautifully embellished ones made by EarthLust.

Enter to win a funky sling-back diaper bag.

I found another giveaway/product review blog that I like. Check out Life Starring Ellie and Eve.

Win a really cute handmade handbagat Designs by Vanessa!

Funky Monkey giveaways

I've come across some really amazing handmade jewelry online lately. One such company is giving away a pendant to one lucky winner at Funky Monkey. The pendants are made out of recycled Scrabble pieces, and they are really cool and unique.

Funky Monkey is also giving away a t-shirt from Just Be. Many of you will appreciate the Just Be Scrapbooking shirt:)

And some green household products, which are always nice to try out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I love reusable shopping bags, and have always wanted a designer one, rather than the grocery store ones I currently use. Reusable bags cut back on pollution (manufacturing of plastic bags is very hard on the environment), help stores cut costs (each plastic bag costs a store about 5 cents), and are convenient. Groceries are much easier to carry in my cloth bags than in plastic. The handles loop over my shoulders, so my hands don't get cramps from carrying too much weight, and each bag carries soooo much more than plastic. The result is fewer trips from car to house, and faster unloading. Enter these giveaways for a chance to win a really cute reusable shopping bag.

Enter here to win a really cool Kaboost! It's a brilliant contraption that fits on your chair legs to boost the chair seat for your toddler.
If you have a baby or toddler, or know someone who does, you want to enter this giveaway for adorable soft-soled shoes in unique and chic designs.

If you love taking pictures, and have a nice camera to do it with, enter to win a custom camera strap from etsy.

Wow! Check out this giveaway for like, a million things, including BOOKS! I love getting new books:)

More to come later. There's lots more giveaways today, but I need a break from the computer. I'm off to start taking down Christmas decorations!