Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {Fun With Mama}

My mom and Gabriel. June 23, 2010. Some days when I see his sweet face it's as if his
fall back in March didn't happen.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Children & Offering

Last night I was sitting with my kids during family VBS, and before they were dismissed to their classes, the worship leader explained to the children, "Well, it looks like the boys are ahead of the girls by only $1 in our efforts to raise money for Pioneer Bible Translators!" The boys cheered. The girls were not distraught, though. They had another day to bring their offerings and attempt to beat the boys in this friendly competition for a good cause.

By the end of the night, however, the girls were almost $40 ahead of the boys. That total alone was about three times as much as they raised the night before. I remember looking over at one little girl as her mom handed her a $5 bill and told her to run over to the offering bucket for the girls.

I have mixed feelings about this. It's great that the adults want to help out a good cause - and in some way show by example the importance of giving. But honestly I feel that the children should be taught how to give from their own earnings.

They should be taught that everything we have is not our own. God provides it all. And through our hard work, we give back a portion to ministries and opportunities that present themselves to us.

In Caleb's Sunday school class, they have been given small boxes to take home and fill up with change for an organization called Sweet Sleep. They provide beds to orphans but also provide life-saving mosquito nets to protect them from malaria through their "Nickels for Nets" program.

When I asked him about the box, he said he needed to put coins in it. He also said something like, "I guess I'll have to do more work!"

He knows this only because Josh and I do not hand him money for offering that he has not earned himself. When he was much smaller, he showed up many times without anything to give on a Sunday morning, because we had not set up a chore chart/earning chart yet. I just didn't feel like I was teaching him anything if I gave him the money to hand over at offering time.

But that might just be me.

I do not have any negative thoughts towards the mom I saw who gave her little girl $5 to take to the girls bucket. Not at all. I know it's common, and for small children who don't have an earning system in place at home, I can see why parents might do this. I'm not sure if the concept of giving is effectively taught in that way, though.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Let's teach our children how to cheerfully give of themselves without handing them a quarter at offering time. Let's see how much more it means when they earn it themselves and understand that they are giving back what God has given them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Saw Beth Moore

It is often very difficult for me to put into words how God speaks to me at specific times in my life. Perhaps I need to work on that; I know He would love it so much if I could articulate how He has given me peace, convictions, grace, love, instruction...

All of those.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Beth Moore conference in St. Louis. It was a very last minute type of thing. I knew about it for months, but by the time I decided I really wanted to go, the conference was sold out. The funny thing is...when I went to have dinner at my friend Maegan's house last week, I saw that she had written on her marker board "Beth Moore" on June 25th.

"Oh, I so wish I could go!" I remember saying to her in a pathetic voice.

"I think there is an extra ticket! Let me call and find out."

There was.

So with only a week to spare, I got to go! And would you believe...another ticket became available, and Maegan asked if I knew anyone else who wanted to go. I didn't specifically know someone who had actually said they wanted to, but for some reason, I instantly thought of Bethany. I don't believe it was just a fluke. I believe God had a purpose behind it and put her on my heart for a specific reason, even if I don't know what that reason is. She was meant to be there.

As we learned about being made in God's image, and as I took notes, I kept praying throughout her message that I would hear from Him and know what He wanted me to hear out of this particular set of scriptures at this particular time (because you know that if you study scripture, you can often read the same passage at different seasons in your life and find that He speaks to you in completely different ways).

I kept feeling as if the message wasn't necessarily the reason He brought me there. (I think Bethany will be writing later about specifics on her blog if you want to check it out.) Though I loved it and thought it was simply amazing (as all of Beth Moore's studies are) I kept feeling as though He just wanted me to finally let go of a certain hurt. That I needed to just use this time spent in His word to feel Him close to me and know that even though I may never understand the "whys" of particular situations, He is there. He knows my heart.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

This scripture isn't even in my notes, but I felt it. Through worship, I felt it.

And it's exactly what I needed.

I completely agree with my friend when she says, "I'd challenge any women who have never been to a Biblical teaching and worship conference to GO! Change your plans and go! Let the Lord lead you and be revealed! It was really just that good."

She's right. It's just that good.


Friday, June 25, 2010

I think I'll pick the spa...

Hey, I like all five questions this week for Five Question Friday with Mama M! It's a miracle!

1. Do you know how to play a musical instrument? Umm...yes. My dad was a band director. It was in my contract. Ha! I started on trumpet in middle school and then converted to French horn by the end of 8th grade. Through high school I received lots of "I" ratings for ensemble groups at the district and state level, also a "I" at the district level each year for solos (but only one "I" at the state level, I think it was my freshman year). I loved (loved, loved) playing in conference band, and I was 2nd chair all four years - always a bridesmaid, never a bride, never could step it up and get that 1st chair spot!

I also played for two semesters in college, but then the busyness of schedules kept me from continuing at that level. I did get to play two Christmases at my church "back home" (04, 05 I think) when a group of us would play for the so called greening of the church!

2. What is your pet peeve while driving? I don't really tend to get road rage. I mean, every now and then I don't understand why someone doesn't use their blinker or uses the wrong lane, but overall I think we've ALL done something stupid while driving.

However, I did become very upset one day when Josh and I were in the van with our kiddos and as we were passing an 18-wheeler, it started creeping over in our lane. Josh had to honk the horn, and then the guy got back to his side. As we passed, I looked up and HE WAS TEXTING. I. WAS. SO. ANGRY. I actually wrote down the license plate and the company of the truck. But when I asked my chief-of-police friend if it would even matter if I called it in, he said not really. It's not illegal. Grr. It should be.

3. Would you rather have a housekeeper or unlimited spa services? My first instinct is housekeeper. And then I think spa services. Most of the blogs I've read have said, "Hands down, it's this one," so I'm not sure why I don't feel indecisive! I don't like house work all that much, but I think I could stand it if it meant unlimited spa services. So I'll go with that one. Spa services.

4. Is there a song that you hear that will take you back to the moment, like a junior high or high school dance? Yes, but there is no way I could pick just one. No way. In fact, when VH1 airs the top 100 songs of the 90's, it's like every single song takes me back to a place and time. Sometimes it tugs at my heart. Sometimes it just makes me smile. Often I can remember a place and time when I heard it. For example, if I hear the song Freshman by Verve Pipe, I remember that the first time I heard it was between Rosebud and Owensville on my way home from tanning. WEIRD. I know. My memory just works like that!

There is one song that brings me to tears, and I hardly ever hear it. It's How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye by Patty Loveless. In fact, even looking it up to link to made me cry. It was played a lot during my 8th grade year, and that's the year my grandma passed away. Hurts to hear it.

5. What song best represents your life right now? The first one that comes to mind is You're Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins. Seems to fit my life perfectly. The video I've linked to is great. Even the "one bedroom apartment" shown reminds me of our first apartment as a married couple. And I do miss it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blonde Chrissy

About two years ago, during the application craze of facebook (where there was an application for everything), I did this thing called a hair mixer. I took a picture of myself that I liked most, and I put my face with celebrity hair. It was quite fun, and I saved several of those pictures just to remind myself how cute I would look if I had professional hair stylist at my disposal.

Last night, for no reason at all, I decided to change my profile picture to one that I had saved from when I did the hair mixer. It was silly, really. A hair style and color that I could never pull off in real life.

Here it is.

For one, my hair is the darkest brunette you can find without calling it black. To turn my hair to this shade would be nearly impossible (without big bucks and lots of chemicals) and it wouldn't look natural on me in real life. Something about this program made my skin tone and eyebrows match, which isn't the case when women try to do this to their hair. Not to mention the upkeep it would take. My hair grows pretty fast.

I admit, the picture does look pretty cute. If this is what I would look like, I might go for it. But I think I'll just stick with the natural Chrissy color. Well, minus the gray. I'll keep covering that up!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {At the carousel}

Me and my sweet Sarah, May 2008. Three months prego with Gabriel.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Story Time Questions

While Gabriel took his afternoon nap, Josh decided to take Caleb and Sarah outside for some reading time. They sat under our big, shady tree, and even though it's really warm outside, they had a great time. I can't believe I didn't take a picture. It was really sweet to see them out there together on a blanket as Josh read to them.

Caleb picked out the books, and one of them was his children's bible.

They came inside and Josh said, "Guess what story Caleb selected to read?"

I thought for a moment but wasn't sure what he was getting at. "I have no idea, which one?"

"We read the ten commandments," he continued. "Guess which one he asked me about?"

I instantly knew.

How do you explain adultery to a child in an age appropriate manner? I don't really want to just brush it off. If he asks a question, I want to be able to tell him the answer at his level.

I definitely prefer questions like, "Why is the sky blue?"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Honesty is the best policy...

My Sarah...about changing a diaper.

Happy Monday!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The post where I rant about people I don't know...

Yesterday afternoon I went clothes shopping for myself. For those of you who know me well, that is shocking, I'm fully aware. I hope you were sitting down when you read the opening sentence.

But I saw two things that really upset me - or irritated me - or made me feel like I didn't understand why someone would do what I saw.

As I got out of my car, shut the door, and turned to walk into the store, I looked up ahead of me and there was a very pregnant young woman. It was not mistakable, "Is she pregnant or just look like it" type. She was very thin all over except for the cute, basketball shape in her tummy. Big basketball shape. No mistake. Pregnant.

And then I saw her hand go up to her mouth with a cigarette.

I actually felt physically ill. I had to turn my head and not look at her because I thought I would give her a nasty look or perhaps feel compelled to say something. But what would I say that she didn't already know? She knows she shouldn't.

So I walked passed her, tried to get that image out of my mind, and continued on to find a nice pair of shorts. Maybe a nice top. Something I need for an event I get to attend next weekend (I'll write about it later). I grabbed a few items that I liked and continued on to the dressing room to see how they looked.

I entered the room, shut and locked the door, and then turned around and saw tons of clothes wadded up all over the floor and bench. There were hangers everywhere. It looked liked a teenager's room. Seriously.

I felted compelled to start picking up, and as I did, I counted the items. There were...

3 dresses
2 pair of pants
1 skirt
2 tops
5 swimming suits
1 cover up (for swimming)

All of the hangers that went to these items where just tossed about. I honestly couldn't believe someone would do this. They had no regard for the items or the employees who would have to pick up after them. It was so disrespectful.

As I'm writing this, it occurred to me that one person may have not done all of this. Perhaps it was just one person after another thinking that trying on clothing means tossing aside what they didn't like on the floor of the dressing room.

I realize that since the store I went to doesn't have a monitored dressing room, this is probably not uncommon. I, for one, do not throw clothes all over a dressing room, though. I always place it back on the hanger, and at the very least, I put it on the unwanted items rack (most of the time, I try to put it back where I found it). Why would someone think it's ok to just throw it on the ground?

I just don't get it.

What would you think or do if you saw the two happenings I saw yesterday?

Smart and Trendy Moms

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Because I Need a New Tote

As any good blog hopper would do, I occasionally enter giveaways across the blogging world. You may recall that I won a Visa gift card and a Scentsy plug-in burner at the Ultimate Blog Party a couple months ago. What a fun thing it is to win a giveaway!

Most of the time the giveaways give extra entries for following the blog, grabbing their button, linking to it on facebook and twitter, etc. For the most part, I usually just enter with one comment and let my chances be what they are.

But this time, I'm going to blog about it because I really love this giveaway AND I think you will like this blog and the wide varieties of giveaways that she has.

The author of Life with the Lebedas is giving away a tote from TakeATote.Com {also known as Yvonne Totes}

Here are a few of their cute items!

I like all three of those, and the website has even more to look at. My first entry had to be which one I liked best, and that just happens to be the Yvonne Hand Bag with snap hooks in blue paisley.

I hope I win, but all is fair in love and blog giveaways! Feel free to check out her site and enter that one, too. Or you might find another giveaway to enter while you're there!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We Need Geography Lessons

We were driving around in our van, throughout a city we don't normally see, and I heard Caleb exclaim, "Mom! That looks just like the Leaning Tower of Egypt!"

Josh and I looked at each other and smiled.

"Where is the Leaning Tower of Egypt, Caleb?" I asked with curiosity.

He promptly responded, "In Brooklyn."

Hardly containing my laughter, I continued, "And what state is Brooklyn in?"

"That's in South America."

I guess we have a bit of work to do when it comes to geography!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Journey

It is no secret that I am a fan of The Biggest Loser. I watched last season religiously, even having a "girlfriend night" with Kim on occasion to watch it on Tuesday nights. Some criticize the extreme weight losses each week. For me, I just relate with the people on the show, even if it's on a smaller scale. No pun intended.

However, it was the season before last, in the fall of 2009, that I found great inspiration. I think it's because I had only watched occasionally before that, and it was the first time that I consistently viewed the show. And on a November evening, I remember sitting in my living room in tears as the final contestants ran a marathon. I just couldn't believe that an overweight person could drive themself to the point of finishing something that required such physical endurance.

I distinctly remember texting Kim. "Are you watching them run?"

"Yes," she responded. "I'm crying."

With understanding I replied, "Me, too."

That episode set the wheels in motion for Kim and I to get started on our journey. I asked her if she wanted to use the "Couch to 5K" program and attempt to run a 5K with me in June. I had walked the Race for the Cure in St. Louis two years prior, and I had actually considered running it someday. We felt that even though the program was set for 9 weeks, we'd better give ourselves plenty of time to prepare!

We set a date. We agreed to the first Monday in January. So on January 4, 2010, we met at 6:00 am on our street. Our porch lights were our indicators. We knew that when the porch light was on, the other one was ready to go!

Some mornings were HORRIBLE. And I don't mean the running...I mean the weather. There were times when we ran in single digit temperatures. There were times when we ran as sleet came down on us. There were times when we got going and then it started raining. But we kept going.

And I'm glad we did.

A few weeks ago we somehow got on the topic of our original thoughts on all of this. It's interesting that both of us were unsure if we would really stay dedicated or not. Somewhere inside of me I wondered if I could #1 actually do it and #2 stay driven enough to get up at 6:00 am each day when I didn't have to! Kim felt the same way.

I know, without a doubt, that this is our theme verse:

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

The truth is, I couldn't do it alone. And neither could Kim. We needed each other, and together, we accomplished something great. It was an amazing journey for us, and we plan to continue our journey.

Thanks for your commitment to this, Kim. But most of all, thank you for your friendship. Our talks are always a bright spot in my day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The 5K on Saturday

So much to talk about. So many emotions about the event along with the emotions of the accomplishment with my running buddy. I hope to narrow my focus and write about all of it, but for now, I will share my favorite picture.

Because they are my reason for participating in the event to begin with, even when I felt torn about SGK.

More to come.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wise Words for Moms

On Wednesday I went to a used book sale with a sweet friend, and as we were looking around at different tables, she became excited as she found several copies of something she was wanting to find for me at a Christian book store a few weeks ago.

Wise Words for Mom
(click here to view on Amazon) is an answer to one of the most frequently asked questions, "How can I find passages of Scripture that will enable me to address heart issues?" Ginger Plowman has identified themes of response we find in our children and located passages of scripture that will address heart issues in richly biblical ways. Laid out in a calendar like format to hang on the wall for easy reference.

I am really excited about this. I was hoping to find a copy back when my friend mention this to me, and I'm so glad we found it - or should I say - SHE found it! In fact, there were eight copies sitting there and she grabbed all eight! She loves giving them to people - she believes in it that much.

"The heart of the righteous studies how to answer." Proverbs 15:28

As my children get older, I realize that I need to study how to address the different sinful actions they may take. Because "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

In the opening cover she writes, "It is not enough to use the Scriptures to rebuke wrong behavior. Rebuking wrong behavior without teaching right behavior will exasperate your children. Teach your children how to "put off" sinful behavior and how to "put on" righteous behavior.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds." Ephesians 4:22-23

Here is just one example. It is set up in a five-column format with the following headings: Child's Behavior, Heart Probing, Reproof ("Put Off"), Encouragement ("Put On"), and Additional Verses.

Child's Behavior: Defiant Attitude, Defiant Look
Heart Probing: 1. Are you obeying or disobeying with your attitude? 2. Are you truly obeying when you obey with an unhappy heart?
Reproof: Defiance. It is wicked for you to harden your face and foolish for you to despise instruction. Proverbs 21:29, Proverbs 12:1
Encouragement: Submission. A wise heart accepts command and a happy heart makes the face cheerful. Proverbs 10:8, Proverbs 15:13

I love it. It lists such behaviors as discontentment, complaining, blame shifting/making excuses, bragging, selfishness, etc. (Twenty-two behaviors in all are listed!) Each giving heart probing questions, and each giving scripture of reproof and also scripture of encouragement.

So if, by chance, you've been looking for something like this, here it is! I often use the scripture "Children, obey your parents," with my kids (Caleb memorized that verse this past spring), but there is so much more scripture that goes along with our actions.

And I am quite sure that all of those scriptures will apply to my life as well.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26

Smart and Trendy Moms

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Remember When

Happy 32nd anniversary to my parents today!

A little church, a simple wedding (and by the way, you can now see where my sons get their height).

My mom's bridesmaids.

The groomsmen, jokingly trying to keep him from leaving! Remember when I wrote about Maegan? Her dad is the blue suit in the middle, smiling big.


Off to begin their life together...

Mom & Dad - I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me what marriage means.

Remember when I was young and so were you
and time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I
We made love and then you cried
Remember when

Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other's hearts
Remember when

Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give it up
Remember when

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookin' back it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are,
Where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
For all the life we've had

And we'll remember when

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {Daddy and Sarah}

One of my very favorite pictures ever. August 2008.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No gifts, please.

On Sunday I read this post from The Fabulous Adventures of Mrs. Haid, where she said the following:

I am totally stressing over first birthday party. I don't want DHH to get lots of plastic JUNK. I don't think a one year old needs a theme birthday party or non-family guests. He doesn't have friends! He doesn't get thank you notes! He thinks a hair brush is a toy! However, I have this side [of me] that makes me want to invite lots of extended family members and people with babies that I know and put on this amazing party with lovely decorations and a theme and parting gifts and all that jazz. I have a hard time not idealizing things like this and not getting disappointed when they don't turn out perfectly. I think I will say, "No presents, please!" or suggest a donation his college fund or something. I really want to start a family charity and have all gifts going to that except one. I haven't got that worked out just yet, and people already think I am a nut for saying no to presents, so I'll probably have to give that some time. I have been thinking so much about how I want to raise my child, and spoiled is not an option. Gratitude is. Living simply is. Less stuff is. That sort of thing.

I wanted her to know that I agree.

I didn't always realize I felt that way, though. I wish I came to that conclusion before the first party for my first born. It wasn't until Caleb's 3rd birthday and Sarah's 1st birthday when I came to realize that tons of people and tons of presents just didn't set well with me, and I didn't think it was good for my children either.

Since Caleb and Sarah both have August birthdays, we have always had a celebration for them on the same day. As Sarah's 1st birthday rolled around in August of 2007, I just knew that we could put together something big and fun and coordinate it with Caleb's. We were still relatively new to our town at that point, but we had started making friends, so I decided to invite all of our new friends, Caleb's little friends, and family (extended family included - whoever could make it).

There were a total of 55 people who were able to come and celebrate in our back yard that day. Everyone gathered to see my little Caleb and my little Sarah eat cake and be merry. But as I saw the piles and piles of presents after it was all over, I began to feel convicted about this sort of thing.

On the left, if you look behind Caleb at the table, you can see a glimpse of the gifts sitting there, waiting to be opened. On the right, just a small portion of the collection from the day (Sarah is in the pink shirt).

People may think I'm weird. I've been criticized (and misunderstood) for my similar views about Christmas and Easter. Call me consistent if anything because I do feel the same way about birthday parties for my children.

To celebrate is one thing. I may be jumping ahead a bit with this post - I have so much to say - but as an example, last year we just asked a few of Caleb's friends and a few of Sarah's friends to come over and play in our back yard with a cool new water slide that my parents and Josh's parents got for them. The kids had fun with water, and then we had cupcakes. That was it. They still had tons of fun, we still sang "Happy birthday to you..." and I saw my children's faces light up as they knew the singing was for them.

Simple. Easy. Fun.

On the left, Sarah looking on as I light her number 3. On the right, Caleb smiling as we get ready to sing to him. I pulled a Kate Gosselin and made everyone sing twice...once for Caleb and once for Sarah.

It wasn't all about stuff. It was about recognizing their special day in a simple way.

We did something similar for Gabriel in November for his 1st birthday, asking just a few close friends and family over to watch him smash cake and to sing to him. Kids played and adults visited. It was a nice afternoon.

To me, it's like July 4th or Thanksgiving or New Years Eve...those are examples of people getting together and having a good time celebrating without gifts.

So when do we do gifts in our house?

Fair enough.

Yes, we still do gifts for birthdays and Christmas. It's just on a smaller scale. Our children usually receive one gift from us for their birthdays and one gift from each set of grandparents. When it comes to Christmas, we do three gifts for each child, correlating it with the three gifts Jesus received - one from each wise man.

I just prefer to teach our kids to earn the things that they would like to have. In April we started Caleb on the FPU Junior envelope system (via Dave Ramsey), with a SPEND, SAVE, and GIVE envelope. He has four basic chores that he has to do to earn a set amount. He also has a "fines" list, so if he is unkind or disobeys (and pretty much anything he does "wrong" fits in those to categories) I deduct a portion of his earnings. This has taught him that he has to save for bigger things, and it also teaches him to give his own money at offering time during Sunday school.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." 1 Timothy 6:6&7

We try to teach contentment. That is very difficult when they have tons of STUFF.

With all that being said, I will always write, "No gifts, please," on my children's birthday invitations. It's just how we do things. I have a girlfriend who collected gifts for a children's hospital at her little girl's party. I've been at others who collect donations for the Humane Society or even Operation Christmas Child. It's good to know that I'm not alone in this premise.

How do I feel about other birthday parties that don't do it that way?

This is just how our family does it. I know not everyone feels this way. I enjoy seeing other children at their birthday parties, and I go with a small gift in hand. If I didn't think other parents would be offended, I would find gifts at yard sales like my sister-in-law does. She has found the cutest and nicest things for my kids - clothes, toys, etc. - from nice yard sales in her area, and given them as gifts! Very practical, economical, and green!

So there's another one of those different perspectives from me. We can still be friends, even if we don't agree, right? :o)

Talk About it Tuesday

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sitting on the ledge of my window... my kitchen...are these four glasses.

And just in case you have been living under a rock over the last few days were not aware of the situation, here is an article about the recall on all four of the Shrek glasses sold at McDonald's.

McDonald's Recall: 'Shrek' Glasses Contain Toxic Metal Cadmium

Now, I must say, I didn't take the hint from God about not eating at McD's when the one in our town burnt down and was closed for months and months. I simply drove down the interstate about 5 miles and ate at another one.

But I'm not sure if I should avoid this hint. It's a pretty big one. You'd think a McDonald's buring down would be big enough, but I think bone softening, kidney problems, and hindering brain development might just be a red flag for me.

Cadmium is a carcinogen that research shows also can cause bone softening and severe kidney problems. Research also suggests that it can, like lead, hinder brain development in the very young.

Of course, there's Maegan's perspective: "Yeah, and I must say...after you've eaten a meal from McDonald's, I think Metal Cadmium is the LEAST of your worries!"

So true.

When will I learn?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sounding Out Words

Caleb was drawing on the doodle pad yesterday morning. He was working on some letters, mostly the ones in his name. Then he drew a picture of me - I love seeing myself in stick figure form.

Then I realized he was trying to sound out a word, and I thought it was great that he was trying to spell without asking. I actually wasn't sure which word it was as I watched him write it. When he was finished, it was as follows:


I looked at it for a moment, hoping I could figure it out so that he knew he did a good job of sounding it out. Believe it or not, I did realize what it was.

"Does this say Chrissy, Caleb?" I asked him. His face beamed. I was correct.

Then I realized my children pronounce my name "Cwissy" when asked what mommy's name is. I attribute this to Ming Ming Duck on The Wonder Pets. D a r n duck.

So actually, Caleb did a pretty good job spelling. If it would have been CRSE, I bet most anyone could tell what it was. Guess we'd better work on those "R's", huh?!

Smart and Trendy Moms

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our Budget + The Challenge

I haven't put my post together yet for Elizabeth's $1200 Budget Challenge because our monthly expenses are really set to begin at the 6th of every month. My husband is a teacher, and he is paid once a month on that date. So while I'm a little behind for this June challenge, I'm actually ahead in our household!


It's quite common for people to ask me how we make it on one income - a teacher's income at that. And it's hard to tell people how we really do it unless we just share the real numbers. I've been known to send our budget excel sheet to people because it really doesn't matter to me if people know what our household income is. If anything, it is a testament to how it can work.

Our budget is usually set up for $2411.24 each month. Because of the challenge, I have set it for $1780.24 - sorry, Elizabeth, I couldn't make the $1200 amount! Here is the breakdown:

Church Giving $200.00
Compassion International $38.00

Mortgage $609.50

Health Insurance - Chrissy & kids $293.14

Charter Internet $29.99

Direct TV $39.99

Farmers Insurance - Car & Life $132.62

AES - College Loans $0.00
(normally $100)
Utilities - Electricity/Water/Trash $125.00

Cell phone - Josh & Chrissy $70.00

Groceries $350.00
(normally $400)
Hair cuts $0
.00 (normally $20)
Gasoline $80.00
(normally $120)
Diapers & Pullups $50.00

Clothing $0.00
(normally $30)
Entertainment & Eating Out $0.00
(normally $50)
Misc $0.00
(normally $25)

What I cut were the items that show $0 along with groceries, gas, and student loan payment (I cut groceries by $50 and gas by $40, and we made a large payment to AES recently and we do not have to make a payment for another month - normally we would pay something, but for the sake of the challenge, I'm forgoing it for June).

And for the sake of discussion, I'll let you know about some of the other things that aren't listed just in case you are a budget freak and notice what they are right off the bat!

Oil changes and car maintenance are not listed. My husband administers the ACT every other month at the high school, and we put aside those checks for car stuff (which works out nicely since oil changes are every three months and those checks are every other month - we come out ahead). We are not due for one this month, thus, I am not listing it in the challenge.

We have a "gift" category also, and to be completely honest, I usually don't account for it exactly, but it's there if need be. I've planned ahead for Father's day this month (shhh...don't tell) and there are no birthdays in our family or among our friends, so we're good to go!

About our health insurance - Josh's health insurance is paid completely by his employer/school district, and the kids and I have an HSA through the United Health Care plan. HSA's have a high deductible, but we have planned for it and feel it is the best option for our family.

About retirement - Josh has about $500 of his check taken out automatically each month. We don't ever see that part of his earnings, it's just gone, so we don't have it listed on our budget sheet. We are still trying to figure out if we should put an additional amount aside for me, even though I doubt I'll ever go back to work full time. Even if I did, we would continue to live on one income.

No eating out this month...that's a challenge in and of itself! No hair cuts. I guess I'll be cutting the boys' hair! Yikes!

We have no car payments or credit card payments. It's a freeing feeling. The only thing more freeing will be when we pay off our student loans. I look forward to that day.

On a side note, when our Direct TV contract is up in August, I am 99% sure we will get rid of it. Sorry to those of you who come visit me.

So there's the scoop on how we make it. It's a bit personal, but Josh agreed that I could share it. I hope it encourages others in some way. The challenge for us is a savings of $631.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I want to be like Daphne

Truth be told, I do not feel like I'm 30. Not even close. While I feel much wiser than I did at the age of 19, most days I feel like I'm a 19-year-old in a 30-year-old body. It's not that I don't like being my age. There are benefits that come with adulthood; yet occasionally, I feel like the years have gone by far too fast.

As my 30th birthday approached last fall, I wrote a pathetic blog entry - a letter to my youth. And here it is:

Dear Youth:

Thank you for many wonderful years. Tomorrow is the last day I will be in my 20's, and I know that marks the end of my time with you. You have given me some of the best memories, and I hope that everything I did with my time with you has made you proud.

I'm told this is just the beginning of my life. But the truth is, I know I'll miss you. I'd like to write more. You're worth it after all. I just can't bring myself to say what is on my heart. Tears are already forming.


I remember the day I wrote it. I was trying to be light-hearted, but deep down, I really meant it. For some reason I equated the age of 30 as something to fear and/or mourn. Until someone commented on that post:

Dear Chrissy,

Thank you for the kind letter. It is hard to see you move on, but I know God has bigger and better things in store for you. I know you will always remember the good times...growing up, high school, college, marriage, career, children. The list is long and yes, you have made me proud. You have grown in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man, but you have much more to do. It is always good to glance back and know what you have learned and where you have come from, but the truth is, you can't drive forward when you are looking in the rear-view mirror. It is good to glance there on occasion, but keep your eyes on the path ahead. God has great and powerful things he wants to use you for! Thirties....let me introduce you to Chrissy. Take good care of her! I think she will find that she likes you very much!

Your Youth

I wish the girl who wrote that knew how much it meant to me. It made me realize how ridiculous I was being, and it brought tears to my eyes because I felt that God was speaking through her.

And then new neighbors moved in behind our house.

They were an elderly couple in their 80's, and their children came to look at the duplex before their parents moved in. I remember speaking with the daughter, and she said, "Mom and Dad just needed to downsize. They are in their 80's."

I thought to myself, "I guess I'll never see them. They'll probably sit inside their house and watch Game Show Network all day." I know. So stereotypical. But that was not the case at all.

Within a few days, the woman saw me and the kids playing outside, so she walked up to the white fence that lines the back of our yard and introduced herself. "Hello, neighbor! I'm Daphne, my husband's name is Harold." She went on to tell me how beautiful my children are and also told me about her five grown children. She told me about the farm they came from and why they decided to move into a duplex.

I see her almost every day go for a walk around our neighborhood. "I got my mile in today!" she will say to me as she goes by, so full of life.

She talks to Josh about her garden. She enjoys when the kids talk to her and ask her questions.

And what I've noticed about her is this: she is a young woman in an 80-year-old body. Her eyes are those of a joyfully young-spirited individual. She speaks to me like we've known each other our entire lives. She is so likable and so articulate. She seems like someone I would have been friends with had we grown up together.

Which makes me realize that I want to forever be a young woman in whatever body I am in. I want to be grounded in what I've learned and the wisdom that comes with age, but I want to have the type of young-spirit that Daphne has. I want to be just like her.

So here's to another 30 years, or another 60 years. I'm thankful for this new perspective.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Movie Monday Tuesday

I apologize for not being punctual with this weeks My Movie Monday! Better late than never, right?

This week I want you to participate! So here's the deal...

My Movie Monday

If you have EVER posted a video on your blog, no matter if it was last week or back in November, I want you to link up that particular post. Maybe you have a new one you want to share. But maybe you aren't a camcorder-option-on-the-cell-phone-fanatic like I am and only record once in a while. This week is your week!

Maybe it's something special. Maybe it's something silly. No matter what, I want you to link up! And while you're blog hopping, if you ever see someone who posted a video, tell them about My Movie Mondays!

This week I'm going to link up one of my favorite videos from back in December. It's my dad and my Sarah. They are always so cute.

Happy linking!