Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas blessings

Time just a-flies by. It's already December and time for 2015 to come roaring in. And only a month after 2015 starts, we'll have number five join our family. I can't believe that's only about 9 weeks away.


In an effort to curb my own ugly bah-hum-bugginess that has been festering all summer and fall, I've tried really hard to bring the Spirit back into our house. With a 90% completed kitchen and no more giant house projects looming over our heads, we have been able to resume normal-ish daily life and my heart bursts with joy over that simple fact.

I've started (a very relaxed effort at) homeschooling Eden, since I know I will be pulling her out of preschool in January because I know my motivation for gathering three children, including an infant, into a car that is surrounded by snow and blustery temperatures will be nonexistent. So we've started doing our own math and reading and handwriting curriculum. She seems to enjoy it. I do most of the time. I'm excited to keep going with it and we'll see how committed I am at the end of the school year.

For Christmas this year, we are doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, BUT I hated how last year it was so focused on Santa and presents. I want my children to understand why we celebrate Christmas and not to hurriedly embrace the materialism and "Santa-centered-ness" that is the social norm. But the elf is fun! So Kevin and I decided to make Dorothy (our elf, named about Elmo's pet fish) a service elf who brings ideas for daily service and reports to God through prayer each night about how well the girls did with their service activity for that day.

In an effort to keep myself accountable to this activity, I was thinking about writing a post every few days about our activities and how they go over, successes or failures that they may turn out to be. Then I wanted to share some of the daily blessings we have received because of our efforts. This won't be daily, but I do want to share because it is very important to Share the Gift during this time of year.

We started on December 2 (hey, I'm nothing if not consistently tardy).
Service activity #1: Buy a CVS gift card and give it to a random person in the store.
This was relatively simple except that I was trying to coupon and buy a bunch of stuff for another service activity later so my hands were kind of full. Eden paid the cashier and Winnie chose the person to give the card to. The lady was holding a dog and had no clue what was happening. But we just said Merry Christmas and left. I included a Christmas card that basically said "Enjoy this random act of kindness and pass it on."

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(Girls with the CVS receipt and Dorothy's instructions for the next activity)

Service activity #2: Donate supplies needed by the library.
This was easy. I just gathered the art supplies they were requesting and dropped them off. The girls were too excited to be at the library and play with the books that they had no clue I dropped off the donation.

Service activity #3: Bake goodies for people at Daddy's work.
Well, yesterday our gas was shut off for 12 hours so we had to delay this one until today. But the girls helped make the goodie (pretzel toffee) and then we went to his work and we all walked around delivering the treats to people at their desks. Eden had a blast as the delivery person. I think this activity was the best one so far because the girls were the most involved and understood what they were doing.

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(On our way to deliver goodies to Daddy's work)

Service activity #4: Donate old blankets and linens to a pet shelter.
We haven't done this yet because we are a day behind and did the previous activity today. But we will probably double up tomorrow or the next day.

I've found that these have been small but I have noticed their presence more and more.
*I've had three nights of no acid reflux, thus much better sleep, compared to the previous month.
*Mornings have gone more smoothly and the girls have been in good moods.
*I received a sizable refund from a purchase I made back in April from a company I didn't think I'd get the refund from.
*I got to talk with a friend for an hour on the phone that really lifted my spirits and made me feel so much better about life.
*The girls have done their morning and evening routines every single day this week without missing anything.
*Even with the gas off all day yesterday (meaning no heat or cooking anything in the oven or stove), we had a great day. Normally this type of inconvenience would annoy me and put me in a funk.

There have been other small blessings, but these are the ones I remember today. I truly believe blessing others with service brings blessings back into one's own life. So here's to hoping the motivation to keep serving keeps coming and we can keep the true meaning of Christmas in the front of our minds.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkins and a farm

I love Pennsylvania. There are so many things here to do and take part in. We found a farm nearby that has all kinds of stuff to do and to eat. There are cheese making classes, farm stay opportunities, volunteering opportunities, a pumpkin patch, baby animals of all kind, and best of all (in my weird opinion) RAW milk! I had such a hard time finding raw milk in Alabama, and here it is about 10 minutes away. Plus there is fresh goat milk, homemade kefir and yogurt and cheese, fresh eggs, duck eggs, and all kinds of other stuff. It's awesome. Makes my mouth and tummy happy.

So anyway, after Kevin got off work one day, we went there and got pumpkins and went exploring.

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The girls had a blast searching for pumpkins. We inspected all the pumpkins for "boo-boos" and imperfections.

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After finding our perfect pumpkins, we walked back to watch cows being milked.

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We had such a great time. It was nice to go out and enjoy where we live and take a break from home improvement projects. I'm looking forward to next year when we can do that full time and not worry about having unfinished bathrooms or kitchens or fences or any of the other 200 projects on our list.

Happy early Halloween!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Kitchen is getting there

So we took the plunge and decided to redo the whole kitchen.

I'm super excited to have a nice new kitchen, but I am not excited about dealing without a kitchen. I crave baking, sautéing, mixing, chopping, blending, grinding, roasting, and having things in cabinets instead of boxes.

But we made a lot of headway this weekend. I assembled all the cabinets from Ikea and my dad and Kevin got most of them installed, as well as prepped the floor for tile. Next steps are securing the lower cabinets to the walls, installing the counter tops, and installing the sink.

Oh, how I miss having a kitchen sink.

Doing dishes in the bathtub = :(

I can't figure out how to get the photos from my phone onto my blog without lots of work, so just imagine a dirty, gross kitchen transformed to an empty kitchen with cruddy walls with unpainted sheetrock and old backsplash removed then transformed to the same space with about 2/3 of new cabinet frames installed.

Sink, oh sink. How I miss you.

Sorry for the lamenting.

That's our kitchen tale so far.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

We're moved in and 40% settled.

We finally moved into our house in Pennsylvania. A lot has been happening since we got to PA, but luckily we survived two and a half weeks in a hotel. (Winnie's night terrors did not help us much, but like I said, we survived.)

Our household goods made it safely from storage in SC and despite finding out some interesting quirks of our house, we are sort of settling in. I've managed to paint three rooms and hang some pictures. We are redoing the kitchen because the bottom cabinets have bad water damage. So I've yet to unpack any kitchen stuff. We are living off of take-out, microwaveable stuff, occasionally a crock pot meal, and once in a while a grilled meal. Luckily Kevin's dad has been able to come and redo a bunch of electrical work, move some gas lines, and redo some plumbing. We decided to purchase Ikea kitchen cabinets because they were the most economical, and they will arrive on Saturday, October 4. So we will be assembling cabinets for a while after that and then hopefully installing them soon after that. Hopefully. This has been a learning process for us and I've dreaded living in a construction zone, but we've been living in limbo for so long that it's not much different. I'm just really looking forward to making homemade, healthy, non-prepackaged or take-out food. One day, one day...

My pregnancy is going fine. This kid will probably come out with a third arm or something because of all the crap I've eaten due to minimal ability to make good food, but maybe the third arm will come in handy fixing all the problems with our house.

Other than my general impatience to finally living a regular lifestyle that does not involve two trips to the hardware store a day, we are all fine and dandy. The girls are doing well and Kevin likes his job and I'm sleeping pretty well, so life is good. I think Pennsylvania will be an excellent experience for us...once I have a completed kitchen.