Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ellen and the Case of the Barking Dogs, ctd...

Many thanks, friends! I appreciate your concern. It seems that many of you totally identify and empathize with this particular problem. I've come down a bit from my tree. Yesterday was tough, but I was calmer by the time David got home. The dogs stopped barking as much after lunch, and they barked on and off in the evening, but last night, we didn't hear a peep out of them after 8:30 p.m. They were quiet all night, right up until 7:45 this morning. Then I heard one barking spurt, and nothing after that. It seems to be MUCH better today.

Before yesterday, they'd been in their pen pretty much the whole time these neighbors have lived here. They'd barked a lot there at first, and then they calmed down some. I am hoping that the night before last and yesterday were just them learning how to adjust to their larger yard. When Seth and I got home from Bible study, they didn't bark at us. They didn't bark when David left to go to work this morning. Maybe this is going to work out after all (crossing fingers).

Yesterday, while they were barking, I was doing my devotions in our extra bedroom right next to their pen. I was stressed from the barking, and I was feeling pretty hateful. Then I read this:

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galations 6:7-10

Man, was I convicted. I wanted to sow some angry words, lemme tell ya. But God gently reminded me that it would probably only yield me a harvest of angry words back. Doing good felt like a really wearisome thing to do. But I have a responsibility to do good to my neighbors, since they do seem to be a part of the "all people" mentioned above. =) This is a good opportunity for me to try my best to turn the other cheek, though I don't think it would be out of line to talk to them about it if the barking continues.

So I tried to take this to heart and to pray about it. I tried to calm down and relax and not worry and not despair. God has been good to let them stop barking so much, and I am thankful. But I want to be less stressed about it even if the barking starts up again. I don't want to be quick to jump in and go over there without giving God a chance to fix the situation first.

We did get a really good suggestion, though. Our buddy, Drew, wrote and suggested that we buy a dog whistle. Whenever they bark by our window, we could blow it, hurt their ears, and discipline them that way. And nobody would ever have to know... Drew, we may just take your advice. =) We'll let you know if we do... Or we are willing to take donations for this. =)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A little story...

Once upon a time, there were a mom, a dad, and a baby boy. They moved into a sweet little house on a quiet street in a pleasant city. They greatly enjoyed their quiet, pleasant life in this house and on this quiet street. Things went along cheerfully for about 6 months. Then, one day, a family moved into the empty house next to theirs. This family consisted of a mom, a dad, a baby boy... and two large dogs.

The family who lived in the sweet little house looked and did a double take. They realized that the house next to them had a large, fenced in yard that backed up within six feet of their bedroom window. They hadn't noticed this before. They also noticed that this fenced in yard had a fenced in dog lot within it, a perfect incentive for renters who have large dogs. The little family saw the large dogs, and they took a deep, collective breath. They prayed that these dogs would be nice, quiet dogs. Unfortunately, they were not nice, quiet dogs. These dogs liked to bark. A lot. Loudly. Whenever something moved. Often right by the fence within six feet of the couple's bedroom window. Late at night. Early in the morning.

One night, late, a couple of days after the dogs had moved in next door, the mom in the sweet little house lay in bed, listening to the dogs bark. She prayed that God would please strike them dead. She fantasized about all of the different things she could do to stop the barking dogs from barking, some of them illegal. God, since He is far more merciful than she is, did not strike them dead. He did, however, cause them to cease barking so that the mom could go to sleep. She was grateful. A few more days passed, and the dogs settled down a bit.

Then, one morning, the mom was awakened again at 5:30 a.m. by the barking dogs. Their owners had decided not to put them in the pen on the side of the yard for the night. They sounded like they were going to come through her window at any moment and eat her in her bed. She prayed, and she wondered what to do. Considering her increasing anger over the barking dogs and their incredibly inconsiderate owners, would it be prudent to go over to their house and talk to them? Is it possible that they could become offended by her obvious anger? She didn't want to anger her neighbors; she just wanted their dogs to fall off the face of the earth. What shoud she do? Is this something she should accept with satisfaction or not? =) She still doesn't know, but she's looking for some advice from some people who aren't as angry as she is currently.

The End.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


...The act of accepting; a receiving what is offered, with approbation, satisfaction, or acquiescence; esp., favorable reception; approval; as, the acceptance of a gift, office, doctrine, etc.

I finally got back to MOPS today (yes!), and our speaker talked on the many and varied definitions of acceptance. Her speech mostly pertained to accepting one's friends and family as they are, not expecting them to become more like we'd like them to be, and not making "projects" out of them. While that talk provides some useful lessons to me, (as most of my friends are thrilled to hear), it wasn't what struck me first and foremost today. What really struck me was the definition of acceptance....

Specifically, the "satisfaction" part. When you accept something, you are then saying that you're satisfied with it. And what is satisfaction?

Satisfy- in general, to fill up the measure of a want of (a person or a thing); hence, to grafity fully the desire of; to make content; to supply to the full, or so far as to give contentment with what is wished for.

"Supplied to the full"... "to give contentment with what is wished for..." What beautiful, full phrases those are! They are full of rich meaning and context and nuance.

Most of the time, when people talk about acceptance, everything in their implied definition of it speaks of grudging struggle. "Well, I've just come to accept that." "I have to accept him the way he is." When we speak of acceptance, being supplied to the full seems to be nowhere in the definition. We are accepting what we can't change, accepting something subpar or difficult. Satisfaction is far from our thoughts; resignation is the rule of the day.

When God gives me something, and He impresses on me that this is for my good and my best, and it's something that He intends as a blessing, do I accept it with true satisfaction? Or do I just accept it temporarily until something better comes along, something I think will satisfy me a little bit better? How quick am I to become dissatisfied with the thing that I'm supposed to accept with satisfaction?

This house is an example. When looking back through old posts, I came across the post where I told about this rental coming available. I had taken a ton of pictures, and in each one, I extolled the many virtues of our house. I noticed how great the kitchen and bathroom linoleum are, since they don't show dirt easily. That was then. Now I'm too quick to notice the grimy baseboards in there that don't want to come clean. The kitchen seemed so spacious to me then. Now I fret that we don't have a dining room. Back then, I saw only beauty. I still see beauty, but the bright satisfaction in acceptance of this blessing has faded some, to my shame. I look ahead, worrying about the next step and the next place to move and hungry for even more stabiliy, and I don't accept with satisfaction.

Satisfy-to give satisfaction; to afford gratification; to leave nothing to be desired.

There are so many things in life that we don't accept with satisfaction. We want more and more and more, and the list of our dissatisfactions grows longer every day. This condition is awfully old. Someone wrote about it about 2,000 years ago...

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.- James 4:1-3

Lord, please help me to find satisfaction with all the things you give me for acceptance. My acceptance of each thing you give should always include satisfaction, since it comes from your hands. Help me to be satisfied. I want to be more contented, more peaceful, resting in the gift of whatever good or bad situation or thing you provide.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Feelin' a bit of party let down today... It was such a nice and full weekend. David and I took a good Sunday afternoon nap while Seth napped, and then we decompressed in front of the Simpsons. But this morning, I'm noticing that all the company has left, and the weekly grocery run doesn't seem too exciting. I'm sure the blahs will lift by evening...

But something exciting did happen in my little world yesterday! I discovered that Seth will give you a kiss if you ask. I had been letting him play with my jacket zipper, and while he was intent on that, with my face in his sweet smelling hair, I said, "Will you give Mommy a kiss?" He stopped playing, looked up, opened his mouth, and leaned in. I was shocked. It was really a rhetorical question. I, of course, was very excited, so I told David all about it. His response? "Oh yeah, I knew he could do that. He's been kissing his books when I've asked him to." Of course in my book, this and that are like apples and kumquats. It's a much bigger deal for him to kiss an adult human caregiving figure than it is for him to kiss a two-dimensional image of a bear. I made David aware of that. He smiled. And then I asked Seth for another kiss, and I got it. I better not wear out this new game...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My new look!

So, what do you think? Mom... Dad... it's me, Ellen! This is still my website! Just look down from the strawberries. Don't get confused. See, my name, right there? =) I have wanted something a little more customized instead of my blogger template, but I didn't think I had the technological skills to change. Well, I don't have the skills to change. Fortunately, there are lots of nice people out there who write code and design blog pages for free, and then they put them on the web with instructions that a trained monkey could follow. Voila! I look like a pro! I love the internet... I wanted something clean, easy to read, and best of all, something that wouldn't mash my text up into mush or erase the lines between my paragraphs. It was making me crazy, and I didn't know how to fix it. Problem solved... I hope.

About the strawberries.... Bowls of strawberries are an inside joke in our little family. About four years ago, David's mom came to visit us in Alabama, and we took a trip down to Tuscumbia, AL to see Helen Keller's birthplace. On the way there, we stopped at a roadside festival. There were tons of great antique booths set up that day under the trees, and I spotted this great bowl of kitschy '50s strawberries. I fell in love with them. They had to come home with me. David did not protest much. Since that time, I have periodically put them in the center of my kitchen table for a splash of tacky color. Over the years, he has grown to hate them, kindly, in a good-natured way. He has joked about "losing" them every time we've moved. He has pretended to stick them in a packing box with no paper; he has pretended to drop them from our balcony. I am just glad that they are still with us. He's a good man to put up with them, and he's a good man to put up with me. I feel a fondness for the strawberries. We're both colorful, battered, chipped, and tacky. And hopefully, we both can put a smile on your face and brighten up a drab room. =)

The birthday party...

It was such a great party! I can't imagine it going any better! Seth had so much fun, and I was so glad that he enjoyed it. Here is the rocket cake. It was super easy, and it looks so great because Mom frosted it. She's a frosting guru. I did everything else, but she frosts like no one else (especially when her nutbar daughter decides that a chocolate cake with white frosting is a good idea), so I gave that over into her capable hands. Doesn't it look great? I was pleasantly surprised that we pulled it off. I got the idea from the Family Fun website; just search for birthday cakes. Two tips... before cutting, chill the cake a bit to help with crumbage when you're cutting it up. Before you cut your design, make lines where you want to cut with tooth picks. That way you can line everything up and change it if needed before you start cutting.

We had the party at 4:00 p.m. so Seth could get up from his nap and have a long time to play before bedtime. People had started arriving, and I heard him waking up. He usually wakes up a bit cranky from his afternoon nap. Saturday was no exception. He was whining and crying, and I walked him into the living room. He saw all the people, and he saw the balloons David had tastefully arranged in every possible nook and cranny of the living room. He looked and looked, staring hard at the balloons, and then he smiled and squealed. Quite a change from Mr. Grumpypuss, and he hadn't even had dinner yet! I fed him dinner, and then it was birthday cake time. He'd been doing his serious stare at everything new in the kitchen, including his cake. You can see it in the picture above...
But when we started singing "Happy Birthday to You" this great, slow grin started spreading across his face. He smiled and smiled and squealed. It was a moment that I'll never forget. I wanted to tell everyone to sing it again 'cause he was so pleased. I let it go, but I know I won't forget. It's something I'll treasure up in my heart to get me through the terrible twos. =)

We're a chocolate family. If it's cake, it should be chocolate, in our opinion. We wanted to pass our bias on to our son, so it seemed appropriate to give him chocolate cake for his first taste of dessert. We've got to bias those taste buds early. He thought it was great. After the first bite, he opened his mouth wider and wider for more.

Here's the birthday crew, all camped out in the living room. This is before it got chaotic. =) We decided to invite grandparents and friends with little kids to this party. I thought about this one a bit, and I didn't want to tell people not to bring gifts since that seemed a bit mean to Seth, who would enjoy gifts. So I thought I'd invite his little buddies so he could give gifts back to them on their birthdays. The factor of how many people we could fit into our house on a cold January day was another issue. As it was, our space was slammed. =)

There were toys and kids everywhere... kids yelling and hitting at balloons and running down the halls and helping Seth open his toys and then taking his toys away from him. =) He didn't mind a bit today. That was a blessing. It was great mayhem, my favorite kind. I love the sound of happy children and laughing adults in my house. Rachel, Nathan, Emma, and Colin came all the way from my parent's for the party. My mom and dad and David's mom and dad came, David's parents all the way from Alabama! Then we had some local buddies, Bethany (age 2), and her parents, and Emma and Hannah (age 8 months), and their parents.

Can you tell he liked opening his presents? So far, the farm toy from Paula in Birmingham and the xylophone from us are the biggest hits. He got a lot of great new books from his buds, and he's going to love reading them nights with Daddy. He's also a big fan of this my first puzzle from Mimi and Pop Pop. It has nice big pieces and big knobs for hanging onto. My friend, Amy (Bethany's mommy), made him a personalized picture frame with his name on it. Now to print some new pictures so I can fill all those frames that are empty in my house...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One year ago today... 12:59 p.m., our lives changed forever. This morning, Daddy brought you in our room, and your reached for me and cried out, "Mama!" You love your morning nurse and snuggle in Mommy's bed. After you ate, you lay curled up next to me, and you sucked your thumb lying in the crook of my arm. You don't snuggle that much anymore. It was a special gift to me for your birthday, I think. I remembered waking up with you that close to my heart a year ago, knowing that that morning would be the last day we'd share such intimate space.

How could you have ever been that tiny? But you were, and most days, I don't wish you this tiny again. What a great year it's been...

How my life has changed... We define ourselves through relationships on this earth. We are friends, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and finally, for me, mother. Thank you for giving me a new way to define myself... it's one of the most precious labels I gratefully stick on my chest.

What will the next year bring? None of us knows. But I'm sure it's going to be great. You'll be learning more words, learning to walk, learning about the world around you. And we'll be here, learning to experience the world again for the first time through your eyes.

You weren't a very smiley baby. For the most part, you were pretty serious looking. I think I enjoy your smiles more now because I waited and hoped for them to come. You're so ticklish now. You love to laugh. That's one of the best parts of you moving out of babyhood...

Happy 1st Birthday, Seth! We love you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Car insurance...

Hey! I know, I know, I got on a posting spree for some reason, and now I haven't posted for a whole day! =) Yesterday we had a nice playdate at a friend's house. At this point, Seth has taken so many naps there in his baby tent that she casually referred to her room as "his room." =) Love that tent, and lovin' a baby that sleeps in it, and love that she didn't mind braving a possibly still contagious baby so that I could get some company.

But anyway, just thought I'd see if I could get some help from y'all about car insurance. Yup, car insurance, that thing we all hate to pay for but can't live without (legally at least). Since we moved here and got another car, our car insurance rates have really jumped. We have discovered that N.C. is a horrible state from a car insurance perspective, due to ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy and a large number of uninsured motorists (illegal immigrants). Virginia was much better on insurance. But it is what it is...

We didn't realize how much we were paying above the average, though, until we got a letter last week from our insurance company saying that N.C. required them to tell us that we were paying more than the state rate bureau felt was necessary. We started investigating insurance companies online, and there is a very broad range of rates for the same package. Some were half of what we're currently paying!

However, for insurance, I'm willing to pay more for something when the consequences could be dire if you don't get good customer service. When we've needed our car insurance, it's been there for us with no problems. See this example for reasons why we would care about this so much. =) We have loved all our dealings with USAA, and we don't really want to switch. It's not a savings if the el cheapo insurance company we switch to won't come through for us when we need them.

Geico was the cheapest at half the amount we're paying now, giving us a potential savings of a couple hundred dollars a month. But I know nothing about them. There were a couple of others that I also knew nothing about that were in that ballpark, one of them being Safeco. Anybody in N.C. with two cars and few accidents paying less than $1000 every six months? Have you ever had an accident? How was that handled? If you're from another state, and you've had a good experience with your car insurance and their rates, would you tell me that? We're just checking into all our options...

Oh yeah, and for Katie who asked about our cable. We're with Time Warner, and I think it's definitely worth checking into a lite option from your local cable provider. Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not really sure what to say...

Hmm, I feel an interesting quandary today. Because of some heat that I took for "complaining about money" on this blog, I feel hesitant to share concerns that I have when our expenditures exceed our cash flow. That has happened to us occasionally recently, and it's hard on me. Because some of you have expressed the opinion that I have nothing to complain about because of my very real blessings, I have felt like I'm going to be attacked if I do share my minor struggles with learning to budget more tightly.

But you know, for all the people out there who think I'm whiny, there may be some out there who appreciate what I have to say. So for those of you who get something out of my journey and the things I'm learning, I'm going to attempt to shrug off the effects of these comments and continue on. Because, after all, I'm a real person writing what I write, and when people say hurtful things to me, well... it hurts. If you think I whine too much about money problems, please move on. We've established that that's your opinion. And if you do get anything out of this, please comment and let me know that. I don't know why any of y'all are reading my rantings anyway... =)

So on to my budgeting tip for the day! =) I don't know if most people know about this or not, but I learned a few years ago that you can get wrapping paper, bows, gift bags, and party supplies much more cheaply at the dollar store than you can anywhere else, even Walmart. I looked at a pack of party plates for Seth's party this weekend at Target, and they were charging about $3 for 12 of them. I got some really cute ones today at the dollar store, 16 for $1. Much better. I can always find cute wrapping paper there, and today I even scored some Sesame Street paper. Their large gift bags look like what you get at Walmart or Target, and they're less than half the price.

And today... I cut the cable. Da da da dum. I thought it would be a traumatic experience to go from full on cable internet to cable lite. Nope. Not a problem at all! I don't download large files, so I'm not noticing a slow down one little bit. I shoulda done this a month ago! If you're thinking about going lite, and you have regular high speed, just try it. I was told that I could get it right back if I changed my mind, so there's no down side.

Another thing I learned today was that I get free security and virus protection through the cable company. You don't have to pay extra for that kind of thing 'cause it's included! I installed it on the computer, and now I don't have to worry that I'm letting my cheapskate tendencies compromise our computer investment. (Our free trial with Mcaffee had expired.)

Have a great day! I know I'm going to! Seth is feeling a little more cheerful, and the snot is flowing a little less freely. The chicken is marinating, and I am getting out tonight for some fun with other mommies. The laundry may even get folded this afternoon...

Monday, January 21, 2008

A new baby arrives...

Lydia Joyce
born to Amy and Clifton
at 3:49 a.m., Jan. 21, 2008
6 lb., 10.5 oz., 21 inches long

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body."- Elizabeth Stone

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Extra! Extra!!!... all about it! Mom of Sick Baby Gets Two Hours Tomorrow to Go Out Without Him and Do Whatever She Wants!

David has a bit of work to do here tomorrow (govt. holiday!), and he has offered to cut my chain and let me go out and play while the baby naps. So what do you think, gals? Where should I go? What should I do? Something relaxing and preferably minimally expensive... Any ideas?

No suspects have been identified...

We take you now to the scene of a crime that took place at David's cousin, Keith's, house earlier this week. No suspects have yet been identified. It appears that the murder weapons included a sled and a snow shovel.

John Doe Snowman's relatives have not been contacted. If you recognize this snow person, please contact the local authorities.


I've been in a real cooking mood this weekend for some reason. Maybe it's all the cold weather, and the dusting of snow we got. Last night we had homemade pizza and homemade bread sticks. If you have a breadmaker, these should be no problem for ya. I LOVE my breadmaker. I use it to make homemade rolls and pizza dough... it's fantastic. I got this recipe at Recipe Zzar. I liked the dough recipe itself, especially the advice to roll it out and then cut the sticks out with a pizza cutter. The feel of the dough slicing up nicely and evenly under my cutter was addictive and quite satisfying... and they really do look like the bread sticks from Pizza Hut. I wasn't such a big fan of the seasoning recipe. It was ok at best. I think I would leave it off if I had to do it again and come up with something better. But the sticks themselves were fluffy and flavorful and easy.
In other news, Seth is sick. He woke up a couple of days ago with a nasty cough, and it's only gotten worse. Today he's completely stuffed up and still coughing. Last night, he was pathetic. He'd cough and cough, and eventually, he woke himself up by coughing too hard. I padded into his dark room in my bedroom slippers, and I took him out of his crib to sit with me in the rocking chair. The light from the street lamp outside filtered through the blinds and fell over the chair, and I could see his soft hair glowing. He sat upright in the crook of my arm, and he sucked his thumb and calmed down as he breathed more easily. After a few minutes, I put him back in bed, and he drifted off to sleep again. Poor baby. I hate for him to be sick, but I do love the chance to rock him a bit at night. God created mommies to be comforters, and we love that part of our job sometimes.
I hope he's better in time for his birthday party this coming Saturday! Yes, my baby boy is turning 1 on Saturday, January 26. Sniff. We're having a big blowout for him. I'm packing in as many people who appreciate this sort of thing as my little house can hold. I'm going to attempt a homemade rocket ship cake, and my mom is helping me with party food. He won't remember it, but hey, he'll have the pictures to prove what a cool mom he has. I don't remember my brother's 1st birthday party, but I looked at the pictures enough times that I can almost convince myself that I "remember" his really awesome train cake. I'm going for that kind of "memory," I guess. =)
Now off for a Sunday afternoon nap before Mr. Grumpypants wakes up from his...

Friday, January 18, 2008

S'more Friday night...

We are the kings and queens of big fun in this house... Yup, that's us... eating soup and roasting marshmallows over the candles... which, by the way, roast marshmallows WAY better than your campfire does... direct flame really works great... why didn't my mom do this with us when we were little?... huh, huh?... Mom, I know you're reading this... I think this is going to be become a family event at some point...

You say I can't have pure sugar in a pretty white lump until I'm old enough to vote? Well, can I have a graham cracker then? Thanks, Mommy. Let's see... can I shove it in my mouth all at once? Yup...

I want another one. Now. And, no, I don't want to scrape the graham cracker remains off my chin. That's your job. Gimme.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Yes indeedy. If you put some chocolate on a graham cracker and sit it next to a burner turned up to medium high while you roast your marshmallow, then you get the World's Best S'more. Mmmm, mmmm. I'm just so thrilled to be writing this dribble instead of reading "Mr. Brown Can Moo" to Seth. I love having David home!

Soup weather...

Ok, it's supposed to start some freezing rain here this afternoon, and I'm doing laundry and Seth's napping (I know, I'm always doing laundry and Seth's napping when I post)... and it just feels like soup weather. I've checked the forecast, and it's going to be soup weather all week. Yeah! I love soup, but I'm feeling like I'm in a bit of a soup rut. I've got several tried and true recipes, but I'd like some new ones.

Especially for chili... David is really picky about his chili. I love you, honey. He doesn't like "bland" chili, so that means it's got to have some kick and punch and bite for him to happy with it. I would prefer that my chili doesn't burn my taste buds off my tongue. We need a happy medium, I guess. Oh, and he loves lots of fattening sausage and tons of meat in his chili. I would prefer to cut that down and go for more beans. Anybody out there got a good chili recipe out there that could fit the bill? I've been on the Bush's beans website this morning, but I'm not sure they've got quite what I'm looking for...

Also, anybody got any ideas for what to serve with soup? I'm in a cornbread rut, too. Yup, I see a yellow corn bread road stretching out in front of me as far as the eye can see. =) Help!

I was reading Frugal Hacks this morning, and Janelle? (sorry, can't get there for some reason to check the spelling) was talking about how much she missed eating Panera whenever she wanted to, and that got me thinking about how my favorite meal there is a bowl of french onion soup and half a chicken salad sandwich. Mmmm. But it's going to be nasty out, and I can make some yummy soup and a sandwich at home. Tonight it's going to be potato soup with some sort of sandwich. I have to hit SuperTarget today anyway to take back some picture frames, so I think I'll see if they can give me enough proscuitto for two sandwiches, and maybe I'll get two special rolls for those. With a couple of leftover candles from the advent wreath, maybe I can create that marshmallow roasting experience she was talking about. Thanks for the idea! When you've got a baby, sometimes you can get in a rut with date nights at home. =)

Frugal burnout at Meredith's...

Lindsey posted a comment on frugal burnout that got a lot of people talking over at Meredith's. Check it out...

One of the interesting things about this post is the variety of responses on the frugality issue. Some commenters aren't feeling frugal burnout, and some are. Among those who are, there seem to be varying degrees of burnout. I'm probably oversimplifying, but I think those who are feeling it the most are those who are struggling the most financially right now. That seems to be what they're saying, if I'm understanding it right. Being frugal and scoring a good deal are a lot more fun if you're doing it as a means to some family goals, like being able to afford to visit out of town relatives or to put money in savings, instead of because if you don't pinch your pennies til they squeak, the ship will go under.

I haven't put a link up to Like Merchant Ships yet (gotta do that), but I have been enjoying Meredith's posts for a while now. She commented on one of my posts a few months back, and that's how I found her. Her posts on cheerful, frugal abundance have been inspiring to me as I've been attempting to make my new home a little more homey on a budget. She's had some great homemade gift giving ideas that I've also enjoyed. Thanks, Meredith, if you're reading this. Your blog provides a great ministry to those of who want to make our homes more inviting without breaking the budget...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Visiting my Amy...

While I was at Mom and Dad's this weekend, I tore myself out of their clutches long enough to go and visit Amy! Amy was one of my college roommates, probably my favorite, as I've mentioned before. I think we spent the most quality time together of any of my roommates, really. We roomed together during my junior year and her senior year, and it was a blast. I always had somebody to eat with in the cafeteria, which is big in my book. I got to tell her to go to bed when I woke up with her sleep walking and standing over me. =) She was there to pounce on my hand and squeal when David and I got engaged. I was there to cry with her through a breakup. Amy stood up with me at my wedding, and I prayed for a godly husband for her. I moved away, and she went to grad school in music. She's a great pianist. I think she got married about 4 years ago to my buddy, Clifton. Clifton has been driving me crazy since we met when he was 11 and I was 12, and my brother was beating him in 4-H electric presentations. He's not bitter. =) Clifton is a great, godly guy, and I'm so happy that he and Amy will be welcoming their baby girl any second now! Well, ok, maybe she's got a week or two to go, but it could be any second...

Amy and Clifton live in his grandparent's old farmhouse, which they have recently purchased. It's in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, I have to put on my brights most of the last 15 minutes there 'cause there aren't any streetlights. But it's an adorable old place. It has great windows and architectural details, and the quality of lighting that they get is really nice. I think there is just something about an old farmhouse. You really do get better lighting for some reason. Maybe they don't know how to make windows nowadays.

One of the funniest things about their house is their little bathroom. They have one, and it was added to the house by Clifton's grandfather, also known as the Man Who Thought He Could Squeeze a Bathroom Into the Place that His Broom Closet Used to Be. (They laugh about this, too, so it's ok to laugh with them.) I love their bathroom because I can wash my hands while still sitting on the toilet. It's so much more efficient that way. I hope for a big, huge garden tub and a giant bathroom for Amy one day, but what I love about her is that I know that she's ok with it if she never gets that. She's content with the house that God has given her, and she doesn't think she has to remodel everything to be happy. I love that about her, especially in the age of HGTV where nobody is happy unless their kitchen has stainless steel appliances.

Amy is such an adorable pregnant lady. She's still pretty tiny everywhere but in her stomach, and she has that pregnant appetite that I remember from my last days of pregnancy. You know, where you want to eat everything every two hours but your stomach is so tight that you're not sure if that ice cream cone will fit. I'm still nursing, so I can have ice cream with her, too. Don't try and stop me...

While I was there, I started nesting. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't be nesting, but Amy's room didn't look ready enough to my baby girl hungry eyes, and nesting just came over me. She reasoned, quite reasonably, that she has a few weeks to go, and she was still getting things in the house from baby showers. I however, was nesting... So away we went to shop for the baby's room. Cheaply. Because my friends are as cheap as I am, and Amy's staring down a bunch of new expenses with this baby and all. I was racking my brain for cheap ways to decorate with what she already had.

Her little girl's room is so cute! It has this great fireplace in it already, and I wanted to use that to some sort of effect. She needed some wall art, she said. By the time I'd left, I'd tidied up for her, since she can't bend down anymore, and I'd arranged some of her gifts on the mantel and in the baskets you see in the picture. I think she thought it looked good, at least if she didn't, she lied and said it did. =) We found a mirror in a closet that will look good over the mantel, if Clifton, the Husband Who Hates Hanging Pictures, will agree to put it up. I think she hasn't settled on that idea. But we also thought that she could put a pretty springtime wreath up there, too, as a cheap alternative.

The bottom picture is what we did with some fake flowers that we bought at A.C. Moore. At first, we thought we'd put them in a vase for decoration. But she really needed wall art more than a vase, so I had a lightening flash that maybe we could cut off the stems with a wire cutter and frame them. She already had two shadow boxes, so I cut the stem to fit, and then I cut a piece of white paper to fit, and I framed one. She said she really liked this effect, and I think she's going to do the other one the same way and hang them. Not bad for a $.75 flower...

Amy doted on Seth, and he loved it. She read him books, and she played with him, and she took pictures of him. She even got her camera out first. That's the mark of a real friend, if they take pictures of your kid as well as their own. =) We had a great time, and I hope I was a help instead of a bossy nuisance. I can't wait to get that phone call telling me that a new princess has arrived to claim her throne in your house! Love you, Amy!

*** Update: I sent this post to Amy for her approval, since I did take some pot shots at her bathroom. She informed me that she'd just eaten a plate of cookies. You go, girl!***

I think this is a sweet picture. Amy has no lap anymore, so Seth nestled in the crook of her sofa for story time. I know, I know, he's orange. I can't do anything about it. He loves carrots and sweet potatoes and baby food still.

See, isn't it just made to be a girly room? I'd love to have that fireplace in my bedroom.

Pottery Barn it ain't, but we like it. =)

Don't Waste Your Infertility link...

I just found this off of Sallie's blog, but I didn't want those of you who don't read there to miss this...

Go here...

I really identified with this author's feelings. When we lived with infertility, I remember always feeling like this was Plan B. We were just in a holding pattern to get back to Plan A, which was having kids. I didn't see infertility as God's current, purposeful, meaningful will for my life because I didn't want to accept that. This pain couldn't be God's will... could it? But it was, and I did some wasting of it because I wasn't willing to look around and see God's Plan A for me at the moment. He had some things for me to do during infertility. He had some new directions that He wanted our lives to take that we wouldn't take unless He postponed us having children a bit longer. I see that now, but boy, I couldn't see it then. Anyway, just go read...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back home...

Ahh, the feeling of being in one's own house after an absence. There's really nothing like it. You know the feeling... you've been having a great time away, but when you walk back in your own door, your whole body relaxes. I usually have the "it's good to be home" buzz for a few hours after I get back from a trip. I unpack and put things away, check the mail, listen to the answering machine, and then sit down with a cuppa hot something or other. Sometimes I light a candle. David isn't home just yet (tomorrow night!), so it's just me and the sleeping munchkin. He seemed relieved to be back in his bed.

I was thinking about the things that I've heard about this neighborhood since we moved here. Nobody suggests that we buy a house here. The kindest thing I've heard said is that it's a "transitional neighborhood." I've heard that a real estate agent didn't recommend living here alone as a single female. The worst thing I've heard said is that this place is full of drug dealers. But you know, I really don't give a dang about what they say. What I see here is a bunch of different people of different ages, backgrounds, and races, who live together in quiet community. On my street, most people own their homes and have lived here for several years. Across the street, there is a single gal working her way through nursing school as a bartender. On the corner is an older black lady who keeps her yard immaculately and always gives us a smile as we pass. We have a single black guy who lent us a ladder, a grad student from Duke, a couple with a new baby, a single mom with a teenage daughter, a Baptist couple who have raised four boys and are now retired, and a wonderful Lebanese family with two teenage girls who love Seth.

I know my neighbors, and they are great people. Maybe some would say this isn't a "desirable" neighborhood to live in, but the longer I live in it, the more I see people and not small, older homes and unmowed lawns. When I got home tonight, the Lebanese family next door stopped to talk as they were coming home and taking in their trash can. They were wondering when we were coming home, and they said to leave a phone number so they could call if the house needed anything while we were away. They are fantastic neighbors who always watch the cat for us while we're gone. They help us rake leaves, and they water our plants. I wish we could do more for them, but they don't leave enough! =) Frank owns his own computer business with a brother, and his wife is an accountant. Their girls are so sweet, and I enjoy seeing them coming in and out from their teenage doings. Because of them, I always feel safe here, even when I'm home alone. I know that they are there and ready to help if I ever need anything. What a wonderful feeling! Each light that I see on in our little street is warm with the friendly faces I know are behind it. Getting to know your neighbors can be such a blessing...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Becoming more net savvy...

Ok, so I was at Rachel's last night, and she was helping me become more net savvy. I am pretty computer inept, and to me, this blog is just an online journal with photos. I don't know how to do much of anything else with it. I'd love to figure out how to make a customized header, but that would require me to remember some of the HTML that I promptly forgot after my web design class 9 years ago, so... it hasn't happened. If anyone would be generous enough to help me, please comment. I'd love the help. I'm not proud about this thing. =)

But I digress. Anyway, Rachel showed me a bunch of cool things, and since she was there to walk me through it, I actually achieved some proficiency and didn't give up right away with shouting and scowling, etc. So I shall tell you about my latest discoveries that all of you have known about for ages... So don't laugh; it's new to me.

I discovered Netvibes! I LOVE it. I signed up for Bloglines, and I absolutely hate it. Hate, hate, hate. I think the format is complicated and stinky. But this, I love. It's extremely user friendly. I can make a customized page for myself with my local weather, my email, and best of all, all the blogs that I check regularly, all there. It is super easy to add feeds, and everything is in it's own separate rectangle that I can move around easily. I even have a little "to do" list rectangle. It's fabulous. I love lists. I put "take shower" on my lists just so I can have the pleasure of checking something off. I'm neurotic.

I was also introduced to the addictive pleasure of Sitemeter. I hemmed and hawed about signing up. Rachel gently led me along the path to destruction. =) I really don't want to care who is visiting my site or how often. I don't want this blog to ever be about increasing my popularity. But I did realize that it might be useful to have the tools to be able to figure out who is visiting in case I ever have a problem with internet security. Knowledge is power, and I have been a bit wilfully ignorant. This way, I can have a way to fix something if I have a problem, instead of sitting around, biting my bottom lip and wondering what to do. I've already lost my password, so who knows if I'll be able to check it. Rachel, I know you're shaking your head. Maybe you can help me fix it tomorrow, huh? Love ya!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

With the folks at home...

I'm at Mom and Dad's this week. They've been a tremendous help with Seth, especially at fussy time between 5ish and 8:00. They're spoiling my little man, and he's eating it up with a spoon. I've also used their house as an outpost to take a short weekend trip to see my friend, Amy, who is about to pop out her baby any day now. But I made it back to the familial bosom last night in time to get a good rest and go to my home church this morning. I shall write in detail about all of it eventually when I can again post pictures...

But for now, I'm noticing... why is it that babies decide to suddenly try new things when their daddies aren't around to see it? I keep having to tell David about something new that he's missing whenever he calls. I'm starting to feel guilty. Maybe I should tell him that I know now that he's been sternly warning Seth every night before bed that he cannot grow up too quickly for Mommy. The jig is up. Now that he's not around, Seth is doing all kinds of stuff he didn't do last week.

When we got to Mom and Dad's, Seth started saying something that sounded suspiciously like Nana when we walked in the door. I wouldn't be so sure about it except that I was bathing him, and Mom walked in, and he saw her and said, "Hi, Nana." He loves Albert, and when Mom was telling him that Albert was a dog, he leaned down, looked, and he said "Kitty cat." I swear it's true. I have witnesses! Not only that, he's been leaning forward to give us lots of kisses, and he's started hugging! The hugging is kind of like leaning forward, grabbing us, and pressing his head into our necks while giggling. It's great! He's also started doing this thing where he opens his mouth, breathes in, and then purses his lips and breathes out. It looks kind of like he's practicing to blow out his birthday candles in a couple of weeks. On top of all that, he's FINALLY figured out how to pull his knees forward and push himself up on them. He's only done it a couple of times for a few seconds, but this is major. At this point, he gets around by rolling and squirming, but it looks like we may see some crawling soon.

Oh, and my favorite of all... Seth has said some things that sounded like "mama" before, but I was never willing to call it. I couldn't be sure he was addressing me. But when we were at Amy's house, he was in his high chair, and I walked out of the room to get his wipes. I was heading down the hall, and I heard him call out "Mama!" in a loud voice. Amy was sitting with him, and she said, "She'll be right back." It was so natural. He's never called me before by name. I was shocked. He knows my name! And he wants me when I leave him! This is all so new, and it's amazing to see him put his thoughts and associations into words. If it weren't for the fact that he's getting heavy and squirmy, I wouldn't ever wish him back to a tinier baby. He is so much fun these days...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Baby gift ideas and diaper doublers...

I wrote a few weeks ago about how Seth was leaking through the cheaper diapers. He did it for about a week and a half, at nap times and at night, so I switched to Luvs for a bit. But I had some Parent's Choice left, so I thought I'd try it again. Lo and behold, he doesn't leak out of them right now. I've been told by friends that babies can go through phases were they leak out of diapers, and then they'll just quit. So we're back to the cheaper diapers... but they're not working at night anymore.

He wakes up soaked in the morning... unless I use these things I found called Diaper Doublers. My friend, Paula, told me about them. They sell them in a pack of 30 for $2.99 at Babies R' Us. They look basically like a long maxi pad without sticky stuff or wings, and you put them down in the center of the diaper. They give you a whole extra layer. Since I've started using them at night, he hasn't leaked through once. I don't think they'd be a savings if you had to use them for every diaper change. At that point, you might as well switch to a more expensive diaper. But if you're just trying to keep your baby from needing a change at night, they really seem to do the trick. I know some kids leak through their diapers a lot, whether they're Pampers or Target brand, so if that's you, maybe this will help you out.

I'm heading out to get a couple of baby gifts today. David is gone for two weeks to do some training, and Seth and I want an outing to distract us from those long evenings without Daddy. I don't know how single mothers do it... evenings get long with a cranky baby and no help. We're going to my parent's house for a visit while he's gone, but we're not leaving just yet. I digress.... but anyway, anybody have any baby items that you just loved, that you would recommend as a gift?

Monday, January 07, 2008


I think we're narrowing down the church search. We've been visiting various Sunday School classes at a local megachurch, and we may just land there. I feel torn about it because I really prefer a smaller, homier atmosphere, but David and I have never been shrinking violets, so I think we can thrive in a larger church with a little effort. But anyway.... one of the reasons we really enjoy the church is that their pastor is a great, humble guy who's been there for the past 20 something years. He has a loving family and is still on his first wife. =) And he can sure pack a punch in his sermons. David and I left this Sunday morning mulling over his sermon and brainstorming about things we can do better. Hopefully much better.

I guess the jist of some of it was that many of us have become ok with the mediocre Christian life. He wanted to know if we're ok with this continuing in the New Year. Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten the awesomeness of the gift of grace, or worse, we've taken it completely for granted. The joy of our salvation doesn't make us want to become more like Christ. It doesn't make us want to do anything but sit back and enjoy the temporal blessings that God has provided, like a warm house, cable tv, a loving family, toys for the kids, etc. We live our daily lives unimpressed and unchanged by our beliefs. We don't talk about them; we don't share them with others, even in the mildest ways.

And in not talking about our salvation or even mildly attempting to share the message of God's salvation with others, we may be saying that we don't really believe it. The pastor talked about "practical unbelief." I'm still mulling this one over. I may say I believe that Christ is the only way to God, and that I believe that his substitution for my sins on the cross is the way to be saved from a painful eternity without him, but do I really believe that if I'm not willing to share that message with others?

I sat and thought about it a bit, and I guess I didn't conclude the same thing he did about "practical unbelief." I do believe those things, on most days and in most moments. I would be a liar if I didn't say that I've had moments when I've wondered about the truth of my beliefs, especially in times of complete darkness in my life. But I think the reasons that I'm reluctant to share my faith are more complicated than that.

That being said, there was still plenty of conviction in the pastor's message for me. There are so many ways that I can try to open a conversation with my non-Christian neighbors about the gospel. I can make simple statements to gauge their interest, and I can leave it at that if they appear to be uninterested. The last thing I want to do is push someone farther away from Christ by heavyhanded attempts.

But I have been a Christian wimp. I believe in the power of the Gospel to save. Am I really such an important player in that that God can't get around me if I do screw up? All I have to do is try my best. I don't have all the answers. I'll be sweating bullets if someone asks me something I can't answer. But it is my responsibility to try to proclaim the faith that has given my life purpose and meaning and joy. I truly want others to have that joy. I guess I don't share because I'm afraid they don't want it. And I certainly can't make them desire something. I don't have the power to do that.

I don't know who reads my blog, but I'm sure there are some of you out there who don't believe in Christ Jesus. For all of you out there who do not know Him, this is my simple, pathetic attempt at presenting the Gospel. I am pathetic, but He is not. God created you, He loves you, and He wants a relationship with you. He sees everything that happens to you, and He rejoices when you're happy and cries when you're sad. There is nothing that He'd like more than to have you as His child. Unfortunately, there's a problem. He is completely and totally holy. He has never sinned, and He cannot have sin in his presence. (Believe me, we wouldn't want a God who was as sinful and shiftless as we are.)

We are sinners. We continually fall short of His perfect holiness in a million ways. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we plot murder in our hearts, we hate, we're lazy, the list goes on and on. In our worst moments, we know this is completely true about us. Thankfully, there is a way for us to come to God. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins on the Cross. Our sins deserved death, but a perfect man paid for them with his own blood so that we could come to God. There must be a sacrifice for sin, and he paid it. The only thing we have to do to be able to come into the presence of a perfect God is accept Christ's payment for our sins. I think that's completely awesome.

And for all of you out there who do know this, who would probably call yourselves Christians if asked, but who have a nagging feeling in your heart that you haven't bothered much to try and figure out if your life is displeasing to God...

God wants a relationship with you. He loves you so much, and He wants your life. He gave it to you in the first place, and He wants to see you living it for its highest purpose. He wants you to lay down at his feet all of those things that you've been holding back, all those sins that are making a barrier between you and him. He wants you to stop living with your boyfriend, he wants you to stop unashamedly hating your mother-in- law, he wants you to struggle and give up that internet pornography addiction. You'll be so glad when you do. His ways are much higher than yours, and He knows what's best for your life. Seek Him, and He will help you obey him, no matter how hard it is. You'll be so glad that you did.

There is nothing more fulfilling and wonderful than a life lived in close relationship with God. I've had that, and I've also walked away. I have cherished my sin. But it's so much better to give it up, let God cleanse you, and restore that relationship. Take it from me, a total sinner who knows that she needs this advice that she's dishing out.

Yeah, it's a cop out to witness on the web and not in real life. So I'm not going to do that. This is just a first step for me. Christ has given me so much joy, joy that didn't leave me completely even in the toughest times of my life. I believe the truth of what I say here. And I want you to know it, not so you can be just like me or do something to please me, but because there is nothing better in life than this. I pray that you will find Him in new and amazing ways this New Year. I'm praying that for myself. =)

Friday, January 04, 2008


I've been a bit blah for a couple of days. And I think it has something to do with the fact that all my normal activities have been suspended for the Christmas break, and they haven't started up again. Seth has gotten his morning nap just about every day now for weeks. Something is wrong in my universe... =)

When things are slow, it's tempting for me to question the worthiness of my calling. Playing with a baby who still can't even crawl seems less fulfilling than doing something to help pay our bills or accomplishing tasks that have clear beginnings and endings. I listen to my husband talk about the many ways that he goes out and saves the world, and I think, "It'd be more interesting to do that. That would make me feel fulfilled." And the restlessness creeps up... Sometimes when he says "Well, today, I did X and Y, and a drug dealer will be off the streets by the end of the week. What did you do today, sweetie?," I'd like to say, "Well, today I used my supersonic vision ray to see a tree branch 2 miles away that was about to fall on a small child, and then I flew at the speed of light to her, and I shoved her out of the way," instead of, "Well, um, I did some laundry. And Seth rolled all the way across the floor into a table, and bonked his head, and it looks a little red..."

Maybe I should create a posse of mommies with strollers, and instead of meeting at the mall for Strollercise, we could put on our capes and eye masks, fill our stroller baskets with food, drink, gifts, and, for the ex-nurses, first aid kits, and we could roll through the rough parts of town, dispensing Robin Hood-like aid in between pit stops at the playground and the bathroom. I bet we'd feel more fulfilled at the end of the day than we do currently on some days. Sometimes a stay at home mom wants to save the world in a different way than through raising kids for God. Sometimes she'd like to do it in a more interesting way that involves a satisfying checked off list and good adult conversation, and throw a little bit of altruism in for extra spice.

I guess I need to remember that this really is what I believe God wants me to be doing right now. My lack of contentment sometimes isn't because I really doubt the value of finding Jesus in the dirty diapers. I know that this is valuable, and the problem doesn't lie in the value of what I do. The problem lies in the fact that I want to feel more valued and appreciated by the rest of the world. I want pats on the back from others around me, and that goal sometimes takes the place of God's goal for me. Ouch. I know the question I'm asking is not, "How can I serve God better?" I may ask that out loud to sound pious in my quest for self fulfillment, but I know that's not the real question. The real question I'm asking is, "How can I find something to do that makes ME feel better about myself at the end of the day?" Now, how to find my way back to the first question and really mean it? Hmm, maybe I should seek contentment where I am first, and then maybe I'll be able to ask again and be able to mean it...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I love consignment sales...

Last night, I went to the grand high lama lama of consignment sales. Seriously, I have been to many consignment sales, and this was by far the best one that I've ever seen. It filled up an entire building at the fairgrounds. There weren't just 3 riding toys, there were over 100 riding toys, sometimes 15 of the same one. There were so many toys that they had to categorize them by name brand. Just about every toy that I've thought I'd like to get for Seth in the next year was there, and there were multiples of them at different prices. All dirt cheap... I was riding a thrifter's high last night. This made my week, month, etc.!

Since moving here, I was told about this sale by a couple of people. One of my new friends told me that it was worth it to volunteer for it so that I could get in early to the volunteer only presale. I was skeptical. I've never seen a sale before that I thought was worthy of giving up 5 hours on a Saturday. But these sale zealots were so enthusiastic for their cause that I signed up. Lemme tell you, I will cheerfully serve the teeming masses on Saturday for this. Again and again. In my sale euphoria, I went online and looked up the approximate retail prices of my finds to figure out how much I'd saved. Most of the time, I could find the exact same item online. The following prices are retail:

Mega blocks wagon: $25
Rock n' ride trike: $49.99
play phone: $10
Parents bee bop band: $42.99 on Amazon
shape sorter: $8
Doodle Pro: $20
xylophone: $12
pop-up toy: $12
indoor riding toy: $25
puzzles: $20 approx.
books: $30 approx.
dump truck: $15
see n' say: $12
floppy cart cover: $40
pound a ball: $16.79
dragon pull toy: $10
4 Carters rompers: $28
Leap Frog farm animal magnet toy: $15

Grand total retail: $389. 77

I paid..... $92.00. The most expensive items were never more than $10 a piece. And most toys were in the $2-4 range. The Floppy was a splurge at $10, but I think it'll be worth it for the padding in high chairs at restaurants. And since I think Nana will give me some money so I put her name on the birthday tags for some of this stuff, and since Seth's great grandma will give him some birthday money, my out of pocket expenses will probably be more in the $50 range. Whoopee!

Don't worry, my friends. Seth will not be getting all this for his first birthday. It would probably put him into a materialistic orgy that would make him melt down in a fit of overwhelmedness. No kid needs this much for their birthday. It's going into storage, and items will be taken out one at a time throughout the next year and a half, as he gets ready for them. But I'm so glad I have them all ready for him, and I'm so glad I paid so little for it all! So get thee to a good consignment sale. And if you live in the Raleigh area, get thee to the Kids Exchange sale! Even though I've already taken everything you wanted, there's still plenty left that you didn't even know you wanted until now. Hee hee.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bruschetta Chicken Bake and more...

I just made this Bruschetta Chicken Bake, and it was soo cheap, easy, good, and pleasing to the eye that I had to post about it. I think it's company worthy, if your company likes the taste of good stuffing. I am a Pepperidge Farm snob myself, so I used that. And I upped the amount of water to about a cup because I hate dried out stuffing. I also just mixed everything together and dumped it in a slightly smaller dish than a 13x9, instead of layering and putting it in a larger dish. Try it out!

We had a good, low key New Year's Day. Seth was in a great laughing mood. He's in those more and more these days, and it's so sweet. We decided that the start of the New Year should also be the start of... da da da dum.... weaning. If today is any indication, I think we're going to be ok. We've been using a Nuby cup and whole milk, and he's been playing with it and having a little bit at each meal for a couple of days. Today, David took him straight to his high chair for his dinner without the usual couch nursing detour, and he didn't seem phased in the slightest. I hear the morning and evening feedings are hardest to give up, but we have awhile before we try that.

Right now, I feel good about this. I know that it's going to KILL me when I quit entirely. I have loved nursing Seth, and I don't really want to give it up in a lot of ways. But with our desire to have more children one day, and with my stated desire to ensure that no child of mine is ever able to say "Milk! Now!" while grabbing at my chest, we figured it might be time to start. I hear that weaning is a lot harder once they're older than a year. Sigh. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this before it's all over.

So... anybody have any good ideas for creative outings that you can have with children that don't involve driving long distances, money, or the outdoors during winter? I feel like we're fresh out. We like to get out of the house, but there don't seem to be a lot of free places to go in the winter. Fortunately, the weather was good enough today that we did the good ol' standby, the greenway trail. Tips anyone?