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22 Days To Go ….

and I am back again.  I bet you thought I couldn’t possibly post three days in a row.  HA!

So I don’t know what it is about the holidays, but every year before Thanksgiving, maybe even closer to Halloween, I get bit by the crafting bug.  Now, I am not really a crafty person. In fact, most of my life I have kind-of rebelled against doing anything remotely domestic, especially crafty.  I am sure that it often made my mom sad, considering she is a domestic genuious and she and her two sisters are amazing crafters, I am sure they inherited the crafting gene from their mom (my grandma Bonnie) who is crafty in so many ways.  Don’t get me started on my dad’s mom (Grandma Dorothy) now there is an artist…. amazing organist and pianist as well as painter.  Wouldn’t you know I married into a family of artists as well.  Brandon’s grandma is fabulous with all things flowers, Christine (Brandon’s sister) cooks amazing, sews beautiful quilts and so much more and Brandon’s mom, Diane……. I can’t think of anything she can’t do.  Crafters…..Now I don’t use that word lightly….. I think crafting is an art form.  You should see some of the unique and wonderful things that the above mentioned ladies in my life come up with. 

Then there is me.  Over the last few years I have tried many “crafty” things from scrapbooking and card making to photo stuff and even knitting (remember Kaylee… didn’t last long did it?).  Back when my sister-in-law, Chrisitine, and I were first married she would come up with different things for us to do around Christmas time and we would work on projects together.  I have collected tons of “craft” supplies for different projects I have wanted to try, but never actually got around to doing.  Much to Brandon’s frustration, I am sure, we have moved those supplies from house to house……I can’t seem to settle down or find my crafting groove.  I think my biggest problem is that I am impatient.  I want to instantly create something beautiful and I don’t really want to do it unless I can do it perfectly… sounds like something I said related to blogging (hopefully I won’t pass that lovely trait onto my boys).     What I am realizing, though, is that crafting is creating… it isn’t instant… it isn’t perfect… it is perfected.  I want that.  I think what I ultimately desire is to slow down.  To try.  I want to give simple gifts that I have created and I want my boys to see the world from an artful perspective and I know if I don’t show them that they won’t learn it from a world that is all about fast and furious. 

So after many years of hiding my desire to craft… I have been bitten by the bug. Sadly, my mom isn’t here to help me and so I am going it alone.  Just me and the many crafty blogs I stalk and the books I check out from the library.  I am going to try stuff.  Get down and dirty.  Experiment. Start!!!  I am going to quit buying craft stuff that I never use and actually use it.  I can’t wait until we move into our new (to us) house in 10 days.  Homemaking is a craft an art form… and I miss it. 

My mom has been teaching me to crotchet and I actually really enjoy it… I have got to the end of a project she was showing me and I have to wait until she comes to visit to finish.  But in the meantime, I have checked out some books and I am teaching myself some other crochet techniques.. Today was double crochet. Don’t look too closely, I know it isn’t perfect but it is a start.

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Are you surprised? 

Thought I would catch you up on some of the missing months of our lives.  Let’s start with July and August

We left Utah the first week of July and arrived back in Shelton after the fourth.  On our drive here our living situation changed and we ended up staying with some friends of my parents.  Brandon jumped back into his job.. he had to renew his insurance licenses, reconnect with old contacts, and basically figure out how to sell insurance again.  It was a pretty stressful time for him.  He needed to make money quick but had to do all these other things first.  He spent a lot of time at work.  The other 4 of us (me and the boys) tried to find some normalcy living in someone else’s house and fitting back into a community where many of our relationships had changed and disappeared.  It was a really trying time.  I was stressed, sad, maybe even a little depressed and didn’t quite know how or what to do about it.  Basically, I look back at July and August and don’t remember much but that it was a very dark time.  We were stressed to the max, tired and sick.  All of us!!  Glad those two months are over with.  There is a lot I could say about July and August… but none of it has any real value to anyone and honestly it makes me kind of sick to my stomach remembering. Looking back I think that is why I disappeared from my blog…..  Aren’t you glad I showed back up with this lame post?

I’ll redeem myself and give you some pictures…

july2008-224 Riding horses at Brandon’s uncle’s ranch.

july2008-245  That horse wouldn’t leave Eyob’s head alone. 

july2008-319  Sloan turned 4.

july2008-249  My three wannabe cowboys.

july2008-309  Eyob met Great-Grandma Mathis (Meemaw) for the first time.

july2008-341All the Armstrong men (except Brandon).

july2008-262  E thought he was sooo cool driving this little tractor.  Don’t know how he managed to get it all to himself but he did…

augsept2008disneyland-006  Cousins… Sophia and Sloan. They are only 3 months apart.

augsept2008disneyland-004  The boys… you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get all of them to sit still for a picture and forget them all looking at the camera at the same time.

augsept2008disneyland-016 Grandpa Warren (my dad’s dad) came for a visit and we all went to the circus or maybe the circus came to us… wait we are the circus.

augsept2008disneyland-031  Cousin Sage Olivia entered the world…

augsept2008disneyland-034 and we ALL fell…..

augsept2008disneyland-032  in LOVE…

Maybe they weren’t such bad months after all?

One Year Ago Today

ethiopia-trip-079  we brought this little boy home.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.

ethiopia-trip-361  He left the arms of the three people he loved most in the world …..ethiopia-trip-366  and entered the arms of strangers….  It was a rough beginning for him… for all of us.  He was sick and scared.  We were just scared.  None of us knew what we were getting into.  We all had so much to learn.  And learn we have… all of us. 

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So here we are today… many lessons learned, battles fought and won, love learned and earned and a new family formed.  It is fitting that on this first day of December when we count down to the birth of our Savior that our family celebrate the “birth” of our family of five…. bound together by hope and love.

We love you Eyob Mark, Eyoba, Little Bear, son and brother, grandson, nephew and cousin!

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I have some catching up to do.  I know….. I know….  It has been over 4 months since my last post and you have probably all been holding your breath waiting for me to reappear.  HA Let’s just say things have been interesting these last few months and I haven’t known how to put it all into words.  I stuggle to just do something if I can’t do it to the degree that I want to… you know perfection is a tough mark to hit and often the goal of perfection holds me back from just doing something… well no longer….

Here is my blogging countdown to Christmas. One post a day (maybe more since I have some catching up to do) until Christmas.  It will be my way to ring in the season and get my heart focused where it should be.  Christ our Savior is Born!!!            Maybe we can count down together?

You can stop holding your breath now….. I’m back!

WfmwbannerThis will be my first post for Works For Me Wednesday.  After reading through the awesome ideas for the last few months, I thought I would give it a try.  So……. here goes…..

This may be a “duh” idea, but for me as a mother of 3 small boys I crave alone time and don’t get much of it.  And I mean alone…. not alone with kiddos playing in the next room or with kids in bed and hubby and I watching tv, but really alone.   

To create this time for myself, I have found that getting up a 1/2 hour earlier everyday (my kids get up early) and going for a walk is just what I need.  I get to start out my day ALONE in a quiet, prayerful way, I get excercise, and I get to think about and plan my day.  My husband and I have worked out that he will get up with the kids, change diapers, etc. and I can have that time to get out and go for a walk.  I love this time and while some mornings I am tired and don’t want to get out of bed, all I have to do is remember how much better I feel physically, emotionally and spiritually after spending that time alone and with my Father and I am out the door in a flash.  I keep my clothes in a convenient, easy access spot, a waterbottle full next to the sink, and sleep with my watch on so I don’t have to think about anything.  I usually go for about 45 minutes and come back refreshed and ready to go.  It also helps with the extra pounds those boys have given me.

So that’s what works for me.  For more great ideas check out Works For Me Wednesdays at Rocks In My Dryer.

The Frugal Quest

In my quest to become less wasteful, I have stumbled upon frugality and it seems that these two actually go hand in hand.  Dictionary.com describes being frugal as being economical in use or expenditure, prudently saving or sparing…. wait for it…… not wasteful.  I am learning that when you make a decision or commitment to be less wasteful, you also make the decision to be more frugal. 

The first area that I am working on is being frugal with my money and that has led me on an interesting journey into the world of “frugal mommy blogs” and couponing.  So let me just say, I never thought I would EVER clip a coupon let alone use one, but I tell you what ….now that I have started, I almost can’t stop…. the deals are actually quite fun to find. 

 I am also realizing that deal hunting and couponing take some planning and a little work, especially when you are new at it like I am.  But by checking out blogs of women who coupon and doing the “deals” that they do, I am beginning to catch on and I am really enjoying myself.  It is becoming a hobby, it is also causing me to make menus, grocery lists, and to keep track of where my money is going… because I really want to see how little I can spend. 

One of the important things about couponing that I have had to learn is that stockpiling is key… no not planning for the end of the world, but creating a storehouse of supplies so that you are not forced to by products that you need at the store when they are high priced, but actually buying them when they are as cheap as you can get them, even when you may not need them at the time and saving them until you do.  I had never thought about this before but grocery stores make their money when you come into them without a list, looking for that one thing that you “need” and walk out with 50 dollars of stuff you may or may not need just because you saw it.  Usually that thing you needed isn’t on sale when you need it, so not only do you pay full price for it, you also pay full price for the impulse buys you made while in the store to get that one item. I did that so much before.  It is vital to purchase things you may not need at the time for rock bottom prices so that you aren’t paying top dollar later.  I struggled with this at first, especially because I was trying to eliminate “stuff” and wasn’t really sure how that all tied together.  However, as I started to see the concept written out on other peoples blogs and read about their successes in fugality, I have become a believer.  Buying things that you don’t need yet at low prices frees up money to spend on things that aren’t as easy to find a coupon for; things like fruit and veggies.  Understand?

The other thing that I have learned is the importance of planning my meals out of the food I already have and to actually make a menu and a list.  This takes a little more time, but eliminates those wasteful trips to the grocery store two hours before dinner because you forgot one ingredient and end up coming home with a trunk full of stuff.  I don’t know about you but when three o’clock rolls around and I don’t have anything planned for dinner and I am already tired from a day with the boys, I am so tempted to just eat out or just run to the store for something “fast.” 

I could go on and on, but I think I will let some of the blogs that I have come across speak for themselves. The first blog I found was Freebies4mom.  She has lists of things you can get for free, sweepstakes to enter, product reviews, etc.  From there I found, MoneySavingMom.  She also lists out things you can get for free, deals that she has found at grocery or drugstores.  She has a great description or how-to on the drugstore game (more on that in another post).  MoneySavingMom also has a lot of good advice about being frugal in general.  The next blogs that I found are other deal making blogs… The”Cents”ibleSawyer, SisterlySavings, and MommySnacks.  I check these alot for suggestions on what coupons to use and where.  If you are interested in all of this start with some of these sites.  Look around at what they offer and follow their blogrolls to other people who have advise on couponing and being frugal.

  All of the items pictured here were part of one of the first, big frugal shopping trips I took.  I had a list of stores to hit and what to get and what coupons to use.  Everything you see here was either free or under 50 cents.  Yes, it is a lot of non- perishables and not a lot of food, but remember stocking up on things you will need at low low prices allows you to have cash free to buy the things that you need that you really can’t stock up on.  Literally, I paid pennies for this stuff.  All stuff I will use.  Bring on the M&Ms.

  Total out of pocket for this…2.48.  Without coupons I would have paid 16.78.  A few of the items actually made me money.

Ok… so… lots of info.  Check out the blogs and keep checking back here as I detail more in upcoming posts.

The Eleventh Hour

You know how when you are at the beach or on a lake all the houses have names, The Smith Shack or the Wilson’s Hide-a-way, etc….????  You know?  Well, we landed directly into a place like that.

So we left Utah last Wednesday (see post below) fully expecting to move directly into this older farmhouse that our friends were able to get us into for a month.  We new we were going to have to move at the beginning of August and while I was thankful that we had a place for at least that long, I was dreading yet another move, that and unpacking for 4 weeks was not really something I was looking forward to.  So we reached Oregon on Thursday and on Friday my mom called with a great offer from their friends.. our families friends… friends who own the above house and view.  They offered us rooms in their house for as long as we need.  This is an fabulous house and an amazing gift to us.  The older boys have beds in a huge playroom (I didn’t need to bring in their toys) with a bathroom, we have our own room and bath and Eyob has his own bed and bath (not sure what he is going to use it for), and those are only half the rooms.  We have more than we need to be totally comfortable.  It is such a blessing to us.  Did I mention that it is right on a lake?  We have spent a couple of mornings/afternoons playing in the water and on the beach… what a great opportunity for the boys, especially after not having a yard in Utah. 

In what felt like the eleventh hour, God came through and gave me what I needed.  It isn’t my own house, but maybe for this time it is even better. It is a divine placement.  God moved us out of our own plans (pretty obviously) and into his… I have no idea what he is doing, what he has planned, why we are here (in Washington that is) other than the job, but I have no doubt that if I can cling to the Father, relax and let go of the need to know, the need to plan, and to have it all under control, then He my Father will lead us.