This Just In ...

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Checking In

Hi everybody.  Just wanted to check in and say I'm still around.  It would be safe to say that a "shaking" is occurring in my life, so continuing on my hiatus from blogging, to spend more time on the important things, is necessary.

If you are a Facebook friend, I have cancelled my Facebook account for good.  I would like to sincerely ask each of you to examine your lives, and your marriages, and determine whether Facebook has been good for you or not.  If you feel a conviction that it's stealing something from you, I encourage you to deactivate your account.  Spend that time, instead, with those who deserve your attention.

I am currently sitting at DFW waiting for my connecting flight to Portland to visit my brother and sister-in-law.  I will be home on Monday night and hopefully will be posting some pics from my trip, and a summary of it, late next week.

Until then, take care !!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Break

I really feel like I need to take a little break.

Blogging, facebooking, etc., has become an obsession, somewhat of a thorn ...

I really feel a need to spend some time away, praying, seeking God for some direction about some things.

Hopefully I'll be back soon.  Until then ...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Prayed for Rain and Didn't Bring an Umbrella

There's an old story I heard one time .. I don't remember exactly how it went.  But, something like this:

There were a group of farmers experiencing a severe drought. They agreed to all meet at a local pasture to pray for rain. They all gathered and prayed, and God sent a downpour. The farmers were scrambling around because they were getting soaked.  Only one had brought an umbrella and he pulled it out and stayed dry.  They had come to pray for rain, but only one believed in God enough to bring an umbrella for when He sent it.

That happened to me yesterday.

Rick and I sent out an "open" invite to all of my 160+ friends on Facebook, and those on my e-mail list who aren't on Facebook.  Basically we said, "Come to our house if you want to between 6 and 11 p.m.  Bring a snack to share.  No need to RSVP, our house will just be open."  We really felt that whoever showed up was meant to be there, and whoever didn't, wasn't.  I was not going to have my feelings hurt if no one showed.  I was ready to just wait and see.

I received a couple of messages telling us that it sounded fun but that they couldn't make it.  No big deal.  I had a couple of "old reliables" (and I mean that with total love Steph and Loren) say they would be there.  (They kindof have to .. they're my BFFs !! )  What I didn't realize was that in an "open" invitation on Facebook anybody can basically see it.

About 4:30 p.m. or so yesterday I noticed that a girl had posted on Facebook that she might be attending.  I looked at it and thought, "Who is that?"  I investigated further and saw that she had some mutual friends as me, so I wasn't too weirded out that a serial killer was stalking us as her next prey.

A little while later the phone rang and on Caller I.D. I saw that it was that person.  I answered the phone and her husband asked if I was the one having the party and wanted to know if it was okay if they came.  He told me that had three children.  I said, "Sure!  Come on over!"  (By this time I was thinking, "Hmmmm .... could God be at work here??")

But, I will admit.  I was nervous!  The one friend that they knew, now didn't think they were going to be able to come until much later!  So, we were essentially having this little family over to fellowship who would know no one!  And I wasn't going to have anyone to break the ice.  

A couple arrived that we have been friends with for years, but haven't seen much in the past 5 years or so.  I didn't know they were coming so was thrilled!  Then Loren and her family arrived.  We chatted for a while.  About an hour later the doorbell rang and it was that little family.  

We had such a nice time getting to know them!  They have three little ones, one who is a baby and two daughters around my daughter's age.  The little girls just played and played and played! We really didn't do anything all night but just sit around in the living room and talk and laugh. Just an easy night hanging out with friends .. some new and some old.

The little family left a few hours later and then our mutual friend showed up.  She was shocked they had called!  They know them from church and are friends, but not close friends, and she was surprised that they had called.  She said they are fairly new to town and church and are pretty quiet. But as a group we were thrilled!!  

Isn't this what I have been praying for??  Haven't I been feeling a need, a longing for true fellowship??  Didn't I truly believe that God would bring those to our home who were supposed to be there?  Yet, I was surprised when He actually did it, and scared to death!!  

She told me as they were leaving that calling us was completely out of character for them.  She said she felt like she wanted to come, but never imagined her husband would feel the same way. They took a risk in calling us.  We took a risk in sending out an open invite.  Do you think God was involved?  I believe that's called "Providence".

I had prayed for rain, and didn't bring an umbrella. Thankfully I had a "rain hat" in my purse and put it on just in time not to get soaked.

We have found new friends.  I hope they feel the same.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finding Freedom Friday ~ Time Management

Phoebe is continuing her Friday series on Finding Freedom. Since I sometimes don't have much to say on Fridays, she gives me something to really think and blog about.  I have also learned some amazing tips on organization, frugal grocery shopping, etc., by following this series.  You should check it out.

In reading her post today, I have to definitely agree with one thing she said ... having a schedule! If I didn't have one, we'd be totally lost!  I'd like to add something to what she said. Every person is different!  Some are morning people, some get energized in the afternoon, some get their second wind at 9 p.m.  However you are, go with it!  Develop your schedule around your peak times of the day.

Me, I'm a morning person!  During the week I get up just before 5 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to go to the Y and just before 6 a.m. on Wednesday and Friday to go walk.  Both of these things get me back home by about 6:30-6:45 a.m.  I then grab my cup of coffee, my Bible and devotional, and sit down to spend some quiet time with the Lord.  If I did not get up and exercise at that time and do my quiet time first thing in the morning, I would never do it later in the day!  I typically want to cry when the alarm goes off, but it only takes me a second to realize how behind I will be if I don't GET UP!!

By 7 a.m. or so I am ready to plan my day, which leads me to my biggest Time Management Tool .... the index card!!

Oh, how I love my index cards! At the end of my quiet time, I take my index card and make a list of the tasks I would like to accomplish for the day, i.e. cleaning tasks, items I need at the grocery store, errands I need to run, etc. Then I really do take just a minute and commit my day (and my index card list) to God. This helps me keep balance. I have to remember that God has things He plans for me to do that day, so if I have my day scheduled to the minute, I have no wiggle room.  I figure the things I actually get accomplished are the things God really wanted me to get done that day, and the rest He didn't so it's not as big of a deal (or at least I try to convince myself of that).

I then carry that index card around with me the rest of the day.  I mark things off, take it with me when I run errands, etc.  I also use index cards to make notes to the kids to clip to their cubbies.  I make schedules for the family if I'm going to be away for the night.  Sometimes I write scriptures on them to tape to everyone's bathroom mirrors.  I write bus notes and other notes.  I should seriously buy stock in them to try to recoup some of the money I spend.  But that's the beauty of index cards.  They are tough, small and inexpensive.

Of course I could sit here and give you my other OCD suggestions for how I keep my day orderly (like how I always make the bed of the person who is currently eating breakfast, or how I clean my house by using Acronyms for the day of the week, or how I oftentimes do my bedtime routine at 5:00 or so in the evening so I don't have to do it at bedtime when I'm tired), but I think I'll spare you the gory details. Let's just say I have lots more I do to manage my time wisely than using index cards, but that really is the best tool I have.

Here's to hoping you have a well-managed day today.  Now, I'm off to do the things on my index card!  We're having company tonight!

** In response to a request, here is my Acronym Cleaning Schedule (I posted about it before, but can't find it.  I don't want to waste time today looking for it.)

Monday ~ Mounds of Laundry and Mop it Monday (6 loads of laundry and mop my concrete floors)

Tuesday ~ Toilets Tuesday (all bathrooms)

Wednesday ~ Wipe it Wednesday (dusting and all other surfaces)

Thursday ~ Tidy Up Thursday (put things back where they belong)

Friday ~ Finish Up Laundry and Floors Friday (about 5-6 more loads of laundry and vacuuming)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do-It-Herself Workshop ~ Gardening and Yard Maintenance

Ladies ~

Home Depot is having a workshop on gardening and yard maintenance on May 14th from 7-8:30 p.m.  I'm going to sign up to go!  You are supposed to bring a photo of your yard and a picture of an inspirational yard.  Wear your dirty clothes and dig in for some fun!

Check your local store to register.  Go here to read more about it.

Thoughts on Thursday ~ Thinking Back

Rona is celebrating her anniversary this weekend and was reminiscing about when she and her husband first met.  Then another blogging friend just celebrated her anniversary and posted pics of her and her husband from over the years.  So, it got me thinking about when Rick and I first met.

Come with me on a little journey back ...

In the summer of 2000 I found myself feeling ready to get back out there into the dating world. I told God, "I think I'm ready, but if you don't think I am then I can live with that, but I really think I'm ready." I had grown so much since my divorce, had come to know the Lord, had peace in my life, was raising Kyndal and Dawson on my own (they were 5 and 3).  I remember telling a lady from church one night that "the only way I was going to meet a man was if God brought him to Chuck-E-Cheese or Wesley" (the church we were attending).  

That weekend happened to be the quarterly Camino event (Camino is a type of scripted weekend where followers demonstrate God's grace to those who sign up for the event. The men go on one weekend and the women go on the next. Both husband and wife of a married couple are required to attend on the same weekend.)  Our church was hosting the event.  As a part of the weekend, gifts are given to participants and workers of the weekend, as each person feels led to give them.  For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit prompted me to buy a gift symbolizing perseverance for a man named "Rick" who was giving one of the talks that weekend.  I thought I might know who Rick was, thought I might know his story, but wasn't exactly sure.  So, I bought the gift, wrote a card and wrapped it up.

That afternoon I took my gifts up the church.  I rounded a corner and ran into Rick in the hall.  I passed on by and the weekend came and went.

After the weekend was over, I went home.  I received a phone call the following Tuesday from Rick.  These were the words he spoke to me, "Do you know more about me than I know about you or were you led to write the words in that card?"  I said, "Well, since I have no idea what I wrote, I must have been led to write it."  He went on to tell me how the words were exactly what he was needing to know in that moment in his life.  We talked on the phone for a while longer and ended the call.  (The really funny thing is that I spelled his name "Tallman" instead of "Taulman").

The next weekend was the women's weekend, back at our church.  I was a worker at that event. One night, on my cot, there was a pile of gifts for me.  In the middle of it was a small bag with a cross on it.  The card had a man's handwriting.  I thought it was from a male friend of mine, so I smiled and opened the card.  It was from Rick.  The note was written on a piece of note paper with the scripture, "We love because He first loved us."  Inside the bag was a small book called "Psalms for the Single Mom".  I was blown away and so touched!!!

We saw each other briefly in the prayer chapel later in the week, praying for another person who was giving a talk at that time.  When I turned around he was there and our hands touched. **smile**

When I got home from the event, I had laid all of the gifts on my bed.  Kyndal loved to go through them because there were always little trinket things.  While going through them she started humming a song I sang at church as a child, "We love, because He first loved us!"  I had NEVER heard her sing that before, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  Honestly, I felt like that was just simply a sign from God.

Rick called me that evening and we set a time to go on a date. He lived in a town an hour and half away.  We went out to dinner that Thursday (Zio's) and went for a walk in a park. Then we went back to my house (to relieve the teen babysitter) and sat on the front porch and talked for hours covered up in a blanket (it was late October and chilly).

We've been together ever since.  

I knew He was the one and it has never been a doubt in my mind since.  We never really dated, and never even really talked about getting married.  It just was.

He took a job in Tulsa in January and commuted back and forth for a few months.  I sold my house at the end of March, we moved to Owasso and got married in June (we were wanting to wait for my brother to get back from Europe, and needed to get moved for a job I was taking and so I could get Kyndal in school).

Our married life has been nothing but a blessing to me.  We often wonder together how we would have met in our lives if neither of us had gone on the wrong paths.  We just know we were meant to be together and that we would have ended up together no matter what choices we made, right or wrong.

I hope you enjoyed our story.  What's yours?  In the midst of all of the marital strife going on right now among so many, could you take a few minutes today and remember when you first met .. recalling every moment?  Doing that helps me remember exactly why I love this man of mine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"What I Got for the Money" Wednesday

Yesterday was just one of those kind of days ... in a good way! I just felt energized, and peaceful, and joyful!  I had The Message playing on the t.v. and was getting caught up on some housework. I just felt God all over everything I was doing all day.

I had my grocery list in hand, and had decided to do two weeks worth of shopping.  I only had a little over an hour to hit both Aldi and Walmart.  Last week I had a big trip to Walmart to just buy "stuff" we were out of, not food.  You know how you have one of those weeks where you are out of everything??  We were all out of vitamins and personal care items and such.  

Sitting in the parking lot at Aldi, I just sat and talked to God for a second.  I said something like, "You know God, I have no idea how much cash I have left in my grocery budget. But, I think it's about $160.  Please just be with me and help me be a good steward of this money and help me not to be tempted to buy things not on my list.  You know, God, I'd really love to be able to have about $50 left after I finish this trip."  In my mind I was thinking I wanted $50 left after Aldi and Walmart, to add to our grocery savings envelope at home. That's the money we are planning to use for food and activities on our summer trip to Yellowstone.

So, I went to Aldi and was able to get the majority of my groceries there.  I was thrilled!  Then I headed to Walmart. (Our Walmart is being remodeled so nothing is where it used to be. Urrgghhh!)  Throughout Walmart I kept noticing there were things on my list I couldn't find. But they were things I didn't really need at this moment.

When I paid at the register I noticed that I had some cash left.  When I got to the car I counted it.  I had a $20, 2 $10s, a $5 and exactly 5 $1 bills.  I had exactly $50 left!  I had already gotten milk the day before, so didn't have to go buy milk.  But, I did have to buy bread at the Wonder store still. (But remember, I had asked for $50 after I went to Aldi and Walmart).  I just laughed.  I was, like, "God ... you are so awesome!  I should have asked for $100 to be leftover!!"

So, here's how I did this week:

3 Gallons milk  $9.27
1 packaged sliced american cheese  1.79
Total with tax  $12.00

Cottage cheese  $1.99
Mini marshmallows  .85
Can chili  .99
2.95 lbs. bananas  1.33
Sugar free popcicles  1.99
8 oz. block mozzarella cheese  1.29
(4) frozen pizzas  3.96
Gallon freezer bags  1.99
(2) Crescent rolls  2.98
(3) Cream chicken  1.42
Can biscuits  1.19
1 lb. sausage  1.99
8.1 lb. ground beef  8.24
Dozen eggs  1.29
Paper napkins  1.49
(2) 3 c. shredded cheddar cheese  5.58
(3) Swiss rolls  2.97
Margarine quarters  .59
3 c. shredded mexican cheese  2.49
4 c. shredded mozzarella  3.29
Spaghetti sauce  .99
Canola oil  2.79
3 lb. red delicious apples  1.89
Plastic cups  .99
Frozen orange juice  1.25
Spaghettios with meatballs  .79
Corn tortillas  1.19
Bran flakes  1.49
Evaporated milk  .69
Taco seasoning  .33
Can cashews  2.19
Paper plates  1.19
Can peas  .49
Frozen broccoli  .99
8 rolls toilet paper  1.78
Potato chips  1.29
Grapes  2.88
Cheese curls  .99
Total with tax  $77.65


Pork steak  $5.59
Boneless skinless chicken breast  6.48
Crispix cereal  2.92
Manicotti noodles  1.38
(3) Mac and cheese  2.22
Chick peas  .74
Apple juice  1.97
Peanut butter  3.28
Soup  1.62
Shredded parmesan cheese  1.78
Hot dogs  .88
2 ltr. Dr. Pepper (Free)
Celery  1.36
Bologna  1.00
Salami  1.12
Junior lunchable  1.94
Can chilies  .67
Berry bagels  1.78
(2) Frozen mozzarella sticks  2.00
Bulk goldfish  6.46

Sterlite box  4.00
Trash bags  2.97
Cheese grater  2.97
10 pk mechanical pencils  1.33
Baby wipes  1.50

Total Grocery  $49.12
Total Household  $13.86

(3) Loaves wheat bread  $4.04
Total with tax  $4.38

Total Groceries  $ 143.15 (** for two weeks of groceries, so $72.00 per week)
Total Houshold  $13.86 (** plus $78.76 from last week, so $92.62)

Based on the last month, shopping every two weeks is definitely the way to go for me.  I've got my average weekly down to around $80 a week instead of about $95 or more.

And when I got home my two boys brought in all of my groceries from the car.  Chivalry is not dead!

Of course I posted this over at Gayle's.

She Wears Short Shorts ...

Ah, to have a teenager!  If you have one, then you'll be able to relate to this statement.  (If you don't, pay attention!)  Do you find that the majority of what you do is lecture, or point out the little things they did wrong and explain in a long, drawn out fashion the way they could have handled something better (to which they completely faze out in the first 10 seconds.)  Isn't our real goal to train them in the way they should go so when they are older they will not depart from it? I know that's my goal, sprinkled with a little bit of wanting to help them avoid hardship from poor decisions.  I always tend to forget that it's in the "little" mistakes that true learning is accomplished.  Still ....

Yesterday Kyndal went home with a friend after school.  I picked her up in the early evening and she told me a story. Her and her friend were going to walk up one of the busy streets in our town (on sidewalks, of course), to go get ice cream.  While at her friend's she had put on a pair of her friend's shorts.  Apparently they were pretty short.  They got out to the main road and started walking and Kyndal said she just stopped.  She told her friend that she wanted to go back and change back into her jeans.  She told her friend that if I knew she was out walking around in short shorts that I would be really mad.  Her friend was, like, "oh, your mom won't care."  Kyndal told her I. would. care.  All she could imagine was me driving by and seeing her. So, they went back so Kyndal could change.  She said she even thought that if I saw her walking back to do the right thing, that I would jump to conclusions and think she had been wearing them for a long time, walking around the streets of our town for the world to see.

I was so proud of her.  She was very proud of herself!  She has apparently learned two very important lessons.  1.  to listen to that "little voice inside".  (By the way, that was the Holy Spirit, not her mama talkin' to her!)  And, 2. that just because we know we are doing something that is not bad, someone "driving" by might not know.  (For instance, I always tell her that when adults are at a restaurant it's not wise to have an alcoholic drink.  Even if it's just one, the youth kid they mentor that walks in the door doesn't know that it's just one.  They may wonder if it's number five or if they do that every night of the week).  We have to be careful about what we do in public to protect our own reputations.

Those lectures have all been worth it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today  ~  April 21, 2009

Outside my window... it's sunny then cloudy, sunny then cloudy, a little chilly, but supposed to warm up into the 80's this week!

I am thinking... about how I seriously have not known a time when God has been more deliberate about allowing those things we try to keep unseen, to be seen.  It's so obvious that He is calling us to come back to Him, and His ways, for each of us to listen and obey.  Come on folks, it has to be done or it will be done for us!

I am thankful for... my many, many blessings, those of which I have counted specifically this morning.  In the midst of so much pain and destruction, I want to be outwardly thankful for the good things in my life .. my husband, children, health, home, other family members and true friends.

From the learning rooms... we're just finishing up the year.  It's always hard when it starts to get nice outside.

From the kitchen... brownies are calling my name, but I shall resist!  New recipes will be tested this week.

I am wearing... a gray and white striped shirt, jeans and my black flats.

I am creating... preliminary lists and plans for Rick while I am in Portland visiting my brother and sister-in-law in a little over a week.  Rick and I are also creating a plan to open our home up for fellowship on Friday nights.

I am praying ... for so many right now that I feel like that's about all I do with my "free" time.  Specifically I am praying for my MIL who has been diagnosed with colon cancer.  Join me in praying for her complete healing.  

I am going... to have to boogie today to get all of my grocery shopping done because I am shopping for two weeks and I only have about an hour and fifteen minutes at two stores.

I am reading... 1 Samuel and the book of Psalms.

I am hoping... that Rick and I really listen to where God is calling us, and not let our emotions and feelings get in the way.

I am hearing... the hum of the fridge and "Ni Hao Kai-lan" on the television.

Around the house... weeds are attempting to attack, but the trees are green and new flowers are blooming!

One of my favorite things... is working out.  We joined the Y again this week and I am so sore I can barely move!!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Today is grocery day.  Then tonight we'll pile up to watch "The Biggest Loser".  I know that my week will continue to include encouraging friends who are going through extremely rough patches in their marriages.  Then on Friday we do truly hope to have some friends over for some fellowship time.  Hopefully this weekend it will remain nice so we can do some dirt work and sod laying.  I'd really like it to dry up so Rick can finish the play structure for the kids.  They really want to play on it!  Then on Sunday, we'll go worship!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

I haven't loaded any new pictures this week.  So, I just decided to post the last picture I downloaded to my computer.  And this was it.  Yum!  Easter dinner.  Ham, homemade mac and cheese and green bean casserole.  Gotta go .. I'm starving!!

For true simple women, visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nothin' Better ..

For a beautiful little three year old, NOTHING is better than eating homemade cheese pizza and a brownie, washed down with red kool-aid, with a previously eaten red popsicle all the way down her only white t-shirt.  Combine that with the "Spring" song on Noggin and an episode of "Wonder Pets" she's already seen today, and life just doesn't get much better ...

Pay it Forward

The Lord blesses a cheerful giver!

My bloggy friend, Alicia, is involved in a "Pay it Forward" blogging chain.  She put out a post that the first 5 people to comment on her post would receive something special from her sometime during the next year.  But to be one of those 5 people, you had to do the same, Pay it Forward to the first 5 people who commented on your blog.  So, I'm in.  I'm one of Alicia's 5 and I am making the same offer to you !!

So, hurry!  The first 5 ladies (or men, for that matter) who comment on this post will receive something special from me sometime during the next year.  ** Please don't participate unless you PROMISE to and intend to follow through with your faithful followers!!

This is the part that is so fun!  I plan to let God tell me when and what to give during this next year.  You might receive it next week, you might receive it next month, you might not receive it for 364 days.  But, I know that if I commit my list to prayer, regularly, that God will bring you to mind at just the right time and you will receive something special at the exact time you need it.  Fun, huh?

My Pay it Forward starts ....... NOW!

Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ Homemade pizza

Tuesday ~ Enchiladas Verde (new recipe from my Taste of Home magazine.  We'll see how it is.)

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Cheesy chicken croissants (my friend Steph's much sought-after recipe.)

Friday ~ Egg sandwiches and chips

Saturday ~ Bisquits and sausage gravy

Sunday ~ Pork stirfry (another new recipe from Taste of Home).

Have a great week!  If you're stumped for a menu this week, head over to OrgJunkie!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Frugal Organization

One of my biggest pet peeves at any of our other houses was that we had nowhere for backpacks, jackets, shoes, etc.  And it drove me crazy!!

When we built this house one of my strongest requirements was that the laundry room be large enough for us to have cubbies/lockers for all four kids, or a "launch pad" as one friend put it.

We have them, and they are great!  There are two cubbies, one above and one below, and a locker area with two hooks. The kids can come in through the garage, drop off their stuff, and I never have to see it!  It is amazing!  But, the cubbies get trashy! The older kids are really bad about stuffing things into them that they don't want to take the time to put up.  We used to have fabric baskets in them, but somewhere along the way the older kids' baskets got taken out and lost.

Yesterday when I was at Walmart, I was walking past the Easter section.  It was being marked down to 75% off.  Of course they had tons of Easter baskets.  But, they also had these little dark brown baskets that look like those large laundry baskets.  They were $1.25 each!  I thought, "I don't know what I can do with those, but I'm buying them!"  I bought all 8 for $10.00 total!

When I got home and walked through the laundry room I caught a glimpse of the cubbies. There!  That's what I'll do with them!

Here's the before:

Here's the after:

A $10.00 organizational solution!

Pheobe's having a Organizational party over at her blog, so go get some other ideas!

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Makes Our House a Home ???

I'm going to be honest .. we have a nice home!  God has blessed us in this area beyond our imaginations (but He has a plan for it, that I'll touch on later!)  We had the luxury a couple of years ago of designing our house and building exactly what we wanted.  I know that some have not had that opportunity and I am amazed at the hearts of those women who have taken the house they have been given and made it a home.  We have lived in "houses" before, where we never felt settled into.  We lived in a temporary "house" while we were building this one, and hardly even unpacked any boxes while living there.  And even in a beautiful "house", it can remain just that.  Making it a "home" takes a special touch, a heart!

I've been evaluating, this morning, what has made our house a home.  In each of these, God is infused throughout it.

1.  Passion.  No plastic people live here!  We have the freedom to have the emotions that a house of extremely different people have.  We love passionately, get angry passionately, get disappointed and hurt passionately.  This is something I am learning every day.  Home is where you should have the freedom and safety to do that.  If you can't do it at home, where can you do it?

2.  Coffee.  Well, I'm just going to say it.  If there ain't no coffee, it ain't my home.  As I sit writing this post, Eli (age 5) and Brynne (age 3) are sipping their coffee concoctions out of their travel coffee mugs.  Dawson (age 12) starts his day off some days gulping down the last of his coffee as he waits for the bus.  Somebody always has to bring in his empty cup later in the day. It warms my heart !!

3.  Gathering around the television.  I love doing this!  For many years, we got away from it. But as of late, we do it a lot. Nothing like a family experiencing laughs and tears while piled on a sofa!

4.  Love.  It means so many different things to so many different families.  When designing this wall art, coming up with a phrase for our family was a challenge.  We are a blended family.  To me, it's all about love.  "Love One Another" !!  That's a command by God, and a command by this mom.

5.  Nicks and scratches.  A perfect house means no one lives there!  A home is not perfect!  Our house is only a year and a half old.  But we've lived here long enough that we have nicks in our stained concrete and out of the wall. Dawson's bathroom doorknob has a dent in it.  Kyndal's bedroom wall has a scratch through the paint where her bed used to be.  Those are signs that living is going on in this home.

6.  Things unfinished.  A perfect house is a museum you have likely paid admission to enter, and are being kept back by roped barracades.  A home has things yet to complete.  We still don't have copper mesh on the kitchen office cabinet (it would seriously take about 15 minutes to do this).  We still have not finished our bathroom floor (again, wouldn't take much to get it done). Our yard is a perpetual work in progress.

7.  Projects.  Always a project going on around here.  For me, right now, it's my container garden.  I planted seeds in indoor pots a month or more ago.  I have green peppers, green beans, tomatoes, basil, oregano, marigolds.  I watch over them like only a mother can.  I will be transplanting them to their larger containers soon.  For now, they go back and forth from the kitchen table to the back porch.

8.  Pets.  Not only people live here, but other critters as well. There's Clifford the Big Gray Cat. We've had him as long as we've lived in Oklahoma.  He's lived in every house we've had. He honestly counts this one as his home.  Then there's Bandit, the bearded dragon, and Camo and Scout, the green anoles. They live upstairs in the teen wing.  But, they define a member of our family, so we love them.  If there was a fire, we'd be certain to grab each one of these members of our household (as well as my scrapbooks and Rick's golf clubs!! Eli would grab his blankies, Brynne her "pup", Dawson would get "Robby" and Kyndal wouldn't save herself if she didn't have her cell phone.  I'm not sure why I just said all that, but I did).

9.  Our Back Porch.  I love, love, love our back porch!  That's where living happens!  I love to sit on my porch swing and read a book or watch the kids play.  I love the mama bird that has made her nest up in the corner of our porch.  I love the birdhouses that are sitting, filled with food, taking care of our flying friends.  I love to have friends over to hang out back there, although we don't do it much!  I love that soon my vegetables will be growing there.  I love when the flower pots are overflowing with blooms and my ferns grow huge!  I love when the kids sit on its steps and eat popcicles.  I love when Clifford comes outside to the safety of our back porch.  I love to listen to music from the speakers that are out there.  I just love it.

10.  This Family.  An empty house is a shell.  The ones who live in it are ultimately the ones who make it a home.  My family is dorky, totally whacked at times, annoying at other times, but totally what makes this home breathe.  To others it's a house, to this family it's a home.

Home is definitely where the heart is.

And I started out talking about how God has a plan for our home.  He didn't just build it for us so we could sit in it.  He has called us to share it with others .. to build relationships within it's walls.  That's why He allowed us to build it! Nothing more, nothing less!  And we've just recently been awakened, reminded, of that call.  The doors of this home are about to be opened up!  Relationships and new friends are about to be made!  God is about to be glorified!

Go here to see how other homes are made.

Lucy's House a Home Challenge and Giveaway

I love the blogging world!  Honestly, I have met some of my current best friends on blogs.  It's a modern day pen pal system and I LOVE IT!  

I also don't believe it's by chance that I come across someone's blog.  Sometimes I am instantly connected to someone by reading her blog and it makes me want to get to know her better. God has taken some of those instant connections and caused amazing relationships to happen!  You know who you are!!!

This is the case with Rona at BerryMorins Bits and Tips.  She commented on one of my posts and I followed up and visited her blog.  What an inspiring woman!  I can't wait to get to know her better!

She inspired me to write a blog about what makes a house a home.  She got this assignment from Lucy's Life.  Her challenge button is on my sidebar if you want to follow her. She, too, is an inspiration!

I'll be posting about the challenge later this morning.  Hmmmmm ... what makes my house a home?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts on Thursday ~ "Y, oh Y ??"

It's time for the YMCA .. and I'm not talking about standing on a bar table singing the song, like my husband may end up doing at the Crow's Nest tonight when he gets together with his high school buddies.  But, I digress.  

No, I'm talking about the place, the YMCA.  Two years ago, dare I say it, I was hot!  I was in amazing shape!  I was also doing Weight Watchers unofficially, so I was 5 pounds lighter than I am right now and totally toned!  I still work out at home, almost every morning, doing an exercise show on FitTV.  And, I honestly thought that would be good enough. But, obviously, it's not. I can't seem to lose those 5 pounds, and I don't seem to be toning up anymore.  I've hit a brick wall.  Sure, I could change the way I eat slightly, and not enjoy ANYTHING I eat.  But, you know, I refuse!  I watch what I eat, don't overeat, eat healthy, and refuse to give up all things carb!

So, the answer??  I need to turn up my workout a couple of notches.  And I know the Y will get me there.  Do I enjoy getting up at 5 a.m. to get to a class at 5:30??  Not really. But, the reward is so great!  I don't know if I have mentioned in other blogs that I have arthritis, but I do.  And I know that exercise plays a great role in how I feel physically.  Let's face it .. I'm just not getting any younger and my body is not going to make it easy on me any more.  I have to fight back!  I have to be deliberate!  I have to join the Y!

So that's what I'm doing this afternoon.

Now back to my story about Rick going out tonight.  As of late a large group of his high school buddies have been getting together regularly, which has been so awesome and so fun!  Tonight they are meeting up at the Crow's Nest, a biker bar (hey, just for fun ... geez!).  I've decided not to go to this one.  "Survivor" is on, duh!!  And, I'm going to be scrapbooking tomorrow night and most of Saturday and Saturday night.  I want to be with the kids tonight.  Rick asked me this morning what he should wear.  I told him to dress like a hottie!!  I mean, we have an image to fake!!  And isn't the whole reason you get together with people from your past is so they can see you now and wonder why they didn't think you were cool back then???  I know this may sound weird to some of you, that I am as secure as I am in sending my husband out to meet up with guys and girls looking like a hottie, at a bar.  It's hard to explain.  It's just us.  We don't make a habit of this.  Honestly, we don't go many places without each other.  But, I know that Rick loves me and he loves his children and we have God as the center of our marriage and we have a certain level of trust.  Honesty, communication, transparency, and a strong devotion to God are what keep us centered on each other.  I love Rick and I know he loves me and I know he's coming home to me tonight, completely mine.  

I keep him in mind when I carry on my daily routine.  A proper diet and exercise keep me fit and healthy and make me a hottie in his eyes.  And, I want to be a hottie in his eyes. I know that because I care about how I look for him that he appreciates me even more.  I want him to be proud to be married to me.  You have to know us, deeply, to understand why I feel like that's important.  But, shouldn't we all care about that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"What I Got for the Money" Wednesday

Last week I shopped for two weeks, so I don't have anything to share with you this week about grocery shopping.  Well, I did go to Aldi yesterday and spent $7.00 on some ground beef, a piece of Eli's cheesecake (for my 14 year old who was with me) and fixins for "party potatoes" for her since she was getting her bottom braces on yesterday and would only be able to eat mushy things. I shouldn't need to go back to the store until next week.

So, I thought I would share how I shop frugally for Easter clothes.  I'm not one to go all matchy-matchy on Sunday morning church outfits, like some others I know.  Sometimes Eli's shirt might be the same color as something Brynne is wearing, but that's about it.  But, I do like for us to "match" on Easter Sunday.  Mostly it's so we have one family photo a year where we aren't clashing.  This is quite a challenge having kids ranging in ages from 14 to 3.

So, what do I do?  And how do I do it frugally?  (I refuse to spend $200-$300 on new Easter clothes for a family of 6!)

Each year, WAY in advance, I pick a color scheme.  Two years ago it was brown accented with blue or pink, last year it was green.  This year, for some reason, I wanted black, white and red. Rick thought it might be kindof racy for Easter, but I had a "vision".  Then I start hunting for bargains in that color scheme.

Our town opened a brand new JC Penney a few months ago. They sent out introductory coupons to spend $10 and receive $10 off.  I found the boys each a black, white and red striped polo, buy one get one for a penny.  With my $10 off I spent $11 on both shirts.  I planned for them to just wear jeans. We're fairly casual in that department.

Then I told Kyndal, my 14 year old, that she could get anything she wanted, as long as it fit in the color scheme and was on sale.  Thankfully she's as frugal as me!  I took her to Rue 21 and she found a cute top on clearance.  She already had a black skirt to wear with it (I'm all about having the basics on hand), so we added some clearance leggings and some accessories. I think all total we spent about $20 or so on her outfit.  I knew hers would probably be the most expensive.

Then while visiting my parents at Spring Break, we went into Stage.  I found Brynne a dress for $2.99.  I paired that with some white knee socks and shoes and a bow she already had. So I spent about $6.00 on her whole outfit.

For me, I'm all about clearance stuff, especially if it's for church.  I like to have LOTS of cheap stuff so if I only wear it once I still get my money's worth.  But I really wanted a pair of white pants!  I found a pair at TJMaxx for $20 AND they were a size 4 !!  I had to have them, if only for the ego boost! I had found a back shirt with white dots and red buttons, and a red jacket, at the same Stage sale for $5.99 each.  So, my whole outfit was $32.00.  Keep in mind, I will probably still be wearing those pants in 2024.

All that was left was Rick.  Get him a golf shirt and he's good to go.  Brynne and I found him a cool shirt at Kohl's for $17.00 after my 15% off coupon.

So, all six of our outfits cost a grand total of $90.00.  I was pretty happy about that!  That averages to $15.00 an outfit.

And, we look pretty good, I must say! (Except for the tears, of course! I just had to post this picture.  This is a typical Taulman Family photo.)


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today  ~  April 14, 2009

Outside my window... it's sunny and warm!!!!!

I am thinking... about my sweet friend and how God has her right where she's supposed to be.

I am thankful for... the living and loving Word of God in my life, and a husband and friends to share it with.

From the learning rooms... that God has something working in the lives of this family and wants us to grasp it and move with it.

From the kitchen... the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, I need to make some tea, and it's about time for lunch.

I am wearing... jeans, a baseball style shirt with hearts on it, my brown moccasins.

I am creating... nothing .. yea!!

I am going... to take Kyndal to the ortho today to get her bottom braces put on.

I am reading... the end of my Esther Bible study and the book "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore".

I am hoping... that God moves in a mighty way for those who need Him.  

I am hearing... Eli playing his xbox.  

Around the house... it's spring.

One of my favorite things... is just being at home.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Today I am taking Kyndal to get her bottom braces put on.  On Thursday Rick's high school buddies are all getting together in Tulsa, but I don't think I'm going to go.  I'm scrapbooking on both Friday night and all afternoon and evening Saturday, so I want to spend Thursday home with the kids.  

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

While hunting Easter eggs at the park on Saturday, Dawson came across these duck eggs.  They appeared to have been abandoned.  Why would a mother leave her eggs?  Maybe they died.  And if they were truly dead, sitting on them was doing her no good.  She had to move on.  Or, maybe she was led astray and was killed, and she could no longer take care of them.  I don't want to be in either situation in my life.  I don't want my protector to leave me because I have died.  If I have died, it is by choice and He can't protect me if I am already dead.  And I don't want to be led astray to leave those I have been trusted to protect, in a vulnerable state.

For true simple women, visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Homemade Fabric Softener

Well, I ran out of fabric softener, so decided to try to make it on my own like so many others do.

I took two recipes and combined them to come up with my own.  I've done a few loads of laundry and so far, so good! My clothes feel really soft, I haven't noticed any static and the scent was minimal, but pleasant.

Here's what I did:

I used the 64 ounce fabric softener bottle I just used up.

I poured in 4 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon (roughly) baking soda (** Word of caution .. vinegar and baking soda combined causes extreme fizzing! Let it fizz up, then put the lid on and swish around easily. The bottle will swell.  Just crack the lid a tiny bit and let the air come out, like you would do a bottle of soda that has been shaken.  I did this process a couple of times to get it mixed.)

Then I added 1 1/3 cups White Rain hair conditioner.  It was a cheap bottle I just had in our linen closet.  Again put the lid on and swish around to mix.  Continue to beware of fizzing.

Then I just added a tad bit more water to fill it up.

The conditioner cost about $1.00, I would guess, and I used minimal vinegar (that was 77 cents for the whole bottle) and only a tablespoon of baking soda (which is about 33 cents a box). So, I maybe spent $1.00 - $1.25 on the whole thing. Obviously this is a frugal alternative to brand-named fabric softener.

** Update ~ I even washed Brynne's fleece blanket, which would normally be a static-magnet.  After drying, there was no static at all and it was so soft.  So were the towels.

Photography Challenges

This weekend was full of Easter fun, so I didn't get my Photography Challenge pictures posted. Since today's post is just my menu, I thought I'd go ahead and get this on here now.

The theme at iheartfaces this past week was "Friends".  I thought this one was cute of Brynne and one of her friends.  

Over at the Photo Hunt, the theme was "Stripes".  I didn't get any photo taken for this theme.  If I come across something I already have, I'll post it.

For the 52 week challenge of getting me in a photo, here is a picture of me and my girl at her Easter party at school.  Love this little girl!!!

Menu Plan Monday

We're eating "easy" this week.  I cooked two big meals yesterday and need a small break. (Plus, nobody cares anyway!!)  I'm scrapbooking this weekend, so definitely wanted some easy meals.

Monday ~ Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday ~ Goulash

Wednesday ~ Fend for Yourself

Thursday ~ Homemade pizza

Friday ~ Chicken sandwiches and chips

Saturday ~ Spaghettios and tomato soup

Sunday ~ Thick french toast (we had pancakes instead this past Saturday, so didn't get to this).

For more great menu ideas, go here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

What a great day, despite the rain!

I got up super early this morning to make breakfast for my family.  Rick got up shortly after I did to hide eggs before the kids got up.  We had such a nice time, talking in the kitchen before all of the busyness began!  It was an excellent way to start the day!

The kids trickled out of bed and went to their Easter baskets.

Kyndal got a scarf and a Missouri Tigers poster.

Dawson got "Scout", a male green anole to mate with his female "Camo", and some darts for his nerf gun.

Eli got a radio controlled car and a Garfield shovel.

Brynne got the "Barbie and the Diamond Castle" dvd and a Garfield shovel.

Dawson, Eli and Brynne got a chocolate bunny and Kyndal got some Peeps.  And all the kids got an Easter container full of Hershey kisses.

After we were done with breakfast and baskets we got dressed up to go to church to worship the Lord and thank Him for His sacrifice!  "He is not here, he has risen ... !!!"

We came home after church and I made lunch.  While it was cooking the kids hunted Easter eggs.  Because of the rain, there were eggs hidden on the front and back porches for Eli and Brynne and in the garage for Kyndal and Dawson.

When they were done with eggs, Dawson took them out for his yearly smash-a-thon!!  Smelly!

I took a smidgen of a nap and then Rick took all of the kids to the movies, except for Eli.  Eli is not a movie-goer.  He was excited just to stay home with me.  Rick and Dawson went to see "The Knowing" and Kyndal and Brynne went to see "The Hannah Montana Movie".  I'm making dessert right now and Eli's playing his xbox.

I had the amazing opportunity to be reminded of the real meaning of our Lord's resurrection, so I am feeling so blessed this Easter!

Hope yours was meaningful as well!