It’s Funny…

You know how I’ve been talking about flexibility lately?

Well this week was another one of those weeks.  I seem to be having a lot of those.  The funny part is that I was trying to catch up on my reading for the Bible study I’m involved in at church. Starting way back at four weeks ago (because that’s how far behind I am!), the lesson was on…FLEXIBILITY!  I think Someone is trying to tell me something.

My favorite lesson was “Day 5” of the study, entitled, “Follow God’s Plans”.  The lesson begins with the readings of Acts 10:9-48 and Acts 16:6-10.  In both of these stories, God leads His people where He needs them to go–not necessarily where they planned to go.  Wherever God has made His plan evident, He succeeds.  It is our plans, as humans, that fail.

The next reading comes from Psalm 33:10-11.

10 The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
    and thwarts all their schemes.
11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
    his intentions can never be shaken.

And lastly, from Proverbs 19:21:

21 You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Isn’t it true?  As much as we try to plan out our days, our weeks, our years, and our entire lives, it is rare that everything goes as planned.

I can’t even tell you how many times I made all of these great plans…only to be deterred.  I was going to go to a college four hours away; I ended up at a college close to home.  I decided on a major in Business Administration (I hated it!); I ended up in Professional Writing.  I planned to do whatever I wanted; I ended up with a baby.  And then a husband.  And two step daughters.  And then another baby.  And here I am.  I planned to be a lifer at my former employer; here I am seven months later, spending more time with my kids, getting more done at home, doing Gods work, and blogging on the side.  Oh, and selling Thirty-One!  (Can’t forget that!)

How different my plans were from God’s!

As much as it is frustrating to have our plans thwarted by circumstances we can’t control, try to remember that God may just have different plans than you do.  Hang on…you’re in for quite a ride!

DIY Raised Garden Bed

do-it-yourself raised flower bed

For a while now, I’ve been wanting a raised garden bed in our backyard.  Our front yard is only so big so I didn’t have any more room for flowers, and we definitely didn’t have any space for a vegetable garden.  Our back yard has been so run down by the dog and the kids that I was afraid to plant anything back there for fear it would be trampled.

I’ve been checking out Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs just keeping an eye on things. I’d also looked at some kits and talked to some friends who had them or knew people who had them.

Then yesterday, we finally had just enough money that we could build it.  My loving husband did some research in the morning and went out to Home Depot for the supplies.  Here’s what he picked up:

1x6x6 picket fence boards cut to 5 ft and 2 ft
2×2 grading stakes for corner posts
1×2 grading stakes for added support
Top Soil
Potting Soil

building a raised flower bed
Initially, Prince Charming put together the planter before driving the stakes in the ground, as our ground isn’t very level, and he wanted to make sure the box was level.  He is, however, planning to try it a little differently today.  I’m providing instructions for his plans for today.

First Prince Charming cut down the picket fence boards to 5 ft and 2 ft.  We wanted our box placed between some existing metal posts in our yard and about 2 feet out to cover the torn up yard, so ultimately the box would be a final 10×2.  Our box is 6″ high.  Height for raised flower beds tend to vary between 6″-12″ on planter boxes depending on your preference and your yard.

Next, Prince Charming attempted to level out the ground (as much as possible) so that the box would be level.  He then drove the corner stakes into the ground and screwed the 5-foot and 2-foot sides of the box to stakes.  After that, he drove the center stakes into the ground halfway between the corner stakes and attached the respective sides to those stakes.

After all this, we filled the box with 4″ of top soil followed by about 1″ of potting soil, and we were done.

We put one planter box together yesterday and will finish the second one today.  Eventually we’ll build two more, but for now we’re just sticking with two.  This project cost us a grand total of $65.81 for both boxes (including soil), which makes each box $32.91 (including soil).

Hubby did great with our resources on this one!  Most boxes you have to spend at least $30 on (for just the box), and we’ve noticed that they tend to bow outward after a while.  These should be fairly sturdy, and are even cheaper than what you’ll find at the stores.  You can’t beat it!

two girls with dirty hands

Cinderella and Tinkerbell show proof of their hard work!

Thanks to Home Depot for the good prices!

And…since we ended up putting together the raised flower beds yesterday, we switched the days on our summer calendar.  So yesterday was our “Plant a Garden” day.  Tinkerbell and Rapunzel planted some flowers and greenery my stepmom gave me, and today we will plant some vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots.  We’ll also make our homemade lemonade tomorrow.

This was a great family activity.  THANK YOU to Prince Charming for spending all his time and effort on this project for me!  Even Wendy and Cinderella helped out a little bit (even though Cinderella had a strenuous weekend helping my in-laws).  I can’t wait to see our plants grow!

NOTE: For those concerned about the chemicals in pressure-treated wood like fence posts, I am currently not concerned with the risks, as the dangers from these chemicals are very small.  If you’d like more information, please visit the following links:

 

Returning for Summer

I have 89 emails in my inbox.

I should read them.  Or sort them.  Or something.

I should be working.  Or keeping my kids from drowning our potted plants in their pool water.

But I’m not.

I haven’t been here for about 3 months.  Three days after my last post, my oldest biological daughter’s father passed away unexpectedly, and I didn’t know how to deal with telling the world.  A wild mix of emotions was involved, including past hurts, what ifs, anger, some depression, grief.  You name it, I felt it.  Then dealing with his family–that was a whole issue in itself.  I discovered who was really family and who wasn’t.

Well anyway, I’m back for now.  I actually was reading through all of the emails in my inbox when I felt the urge to write today.

Summer is quickly approaching.

By noon next Friday, we’ll be parents of a preschooler, an elementary-schooler, a middle-schooler, and a high-schooler.  Scary territory.  Scary and exciting.

And we have an exciting summer ahead of us!

After scouring Pinterest, the web, Facebook, and my friends’ ideas, I put together a plan for my kids over the summer.

First I made our Summer bucket list, borrowed a calendar from another blogger, and filled in some blanks with some of my favorite ideas.  I left Tuesdays and Thursdays mostly open for the summer park program.  As soon as I get the map for the program, I’ll be able to plan those days as well.

Of course our plans may change based on weather, health, and ability, but we’re going to try to accomplish everything on our list.

Check out our plans for the summer.  I hope it helps you to plan yours!  I can’t wait to share our adventures with you!

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Happy summering!

Check it out!  Linking up at:

Lil\'Luna

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

I have to admit–earlier this week, I was seriously thinking about quitting the blog thing.  I’m just not happy with my numbers–no non-spam comments, small number of views, etc.  The problem with that is that I’m not in the habit of quitting things easily.  I never have been.  Well some things.  Some things I quit pretty easily–like dieting.  Exercising.  Okay scratch that, maybe I quit about half of the things in my life, but that’s not the point.

Getting something started is even more difficult than keeping it going, though.  There are always those excuses running through my head: “I can’t, because I don’t have time.  I don’t have the money.  I don’t have the energy.  I’m not smart enough, beautiful enough…”  The list could go on forever.  You get the gist.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought I should just give up Thirty-One, because I don’t have the sales I want.  Heck sometimes I want to quit parenting.  (Who doesn’t?)

At the end of the day, the best laid plans don’t always work out.  For instance, I lay out my schedule all nice and neat at the beginning of the week, but here I am on Thursday evening, and I haven’t put much work into my blog, I haven’t booked nearly enough parties or talked enough about recruiting.  I haven’t done enough work for the church, and I haven’t done my filing.  Or the ironing.  Or finishing the laundry in general.

But that’s because I have two kids with ear infections.  And one got bitten by the dog yesterday when she shut him in our teeny tiny bathroom (who wouldn’t be claustrophobic in there with the door closed???)…so one thing leads to another, and I’ve lost countless hours of time that I could have been doing “more important things”.

Instead, I was a parent.  I sat with my little girl in the Emergency Room, stroked her hair, cleaned her wounds, gave her medicine, researched earache remedies (again), took temperatures, and got up in the middle of the night to snuggle.

So I suppose at the end of the day, it’s okay that I missed out on my business opportunities, my clean house, etc.  Because I got to spend some much-needed time with my kids.  There are so many more children out there who need that.

And the Bride Wore White: Review and Giveaway

And the Bride Wore White book cover

Today, over at MODSquad (Mothers of Daughters–that’s me!), Tracie has posted a review of Dannah Gresh’s And the Bride Wore White, a book that discusses the why of sexual purity–a topic that girls today desperately need to understand.  And something I wish I had known when I was a teenager.

Check out the review and enter to win a free copy of the book!  Follow this link: And the Bride Wore White Review and Giveaway

Too Early to Think About Summer? I Don’t Think So…

Child Lying in a Tent

A few weeks ago, I received an email from our church conference about upcoming summer church camps.  I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to plan!  More recently, we have been receiving snippets from the school and hearing about other camps in the area.

Believe it or not, it’s time to plan for summer camps.  Camps book quickly, so in order to ensure

you’re spot, you need to sign up early.  Not to mention early-bird discounts.

Rapunzel and I are planning on attending Mommy & Me camp again this year; Cinderella and Wendy have a certain camp in mind that they would like to attend as well.  Tinkerbell is still too young.  That’s great and all, but Mommy & Me camp is only a weekend-getaway.  That means I still have three months to plan out.  Thankfully I am partially at home now, so I don’t have to worry about childcare.  But it creates the problem that I need to find things for these kids to do.  I just can’t stand the thought of them Facebooking and watching TV and playing on the computer for three months.  Talk about frying your brain.

One thing I know we are definitely going to do this summer is participate in our local library’s reading and outdoor program.  Last year, Tinkerbell won a camping set for completing the outdoor program, and two of our other daughters won items as well for their reading.  Plus it kept them busy and active for most of the summer and provided some quality time for us.

I do have some printables set out in a binder for the times that I’m in the office with all four kids.  Here are some of the resources I use for my printables:

I also keep up with Money Saving Mom, who is always posting links to free or discounted printables and activities.

I’m also considering signing the young ones up for a one-week theatre camp if we can afford a scholarship and finding a cheap swimming class in the area for Rapunzel.  She is six, and I’d really feel much more comfortable if she learned how to swim.  I was around her age when I had swimming lessons.

Outside of that, I’m a little stuck.  I came up with a few activities, but I doubt they’ll keep us entertained all summer.  Here’s what I have:

  • Learn about the family history
  • Do a craft, crochet, knit (this isn’t much trouble for Cinderella)
  • Make a collage
  • Color
  • Play with Play Dough
  • Play with Chalk
  • Put together puzzles
  • Word and number puzzles (Sudoku, word finds, crosswords)
  • Play a board game
  • Play cards
  • Do a scavenger hunt
  • Volunteer at a local agency/home
  • Work for extra money
  • Come up with a charity idea or an event, plan it, and carry it out

What do you do with your kids for the summer?  What is the best activity you’ve ever done?

Goals for the Week of February 17

I skipped my goals for last week, so we’re going to try again this week.  Here are my goals for this week.  Wish me luck!

Spiritual

  • Devotions each day
  • Devotions with Prince Charming each day
  • Help kids memorize their verse for Wednesday
  • Daily prayers

Family

  • Call Grandpa
  • Call Grammie
  • Spend time with the kids
  • Schoolwork with Rapunzel each day
  • Remember Spring pictures on Thursday for Rapunzel

Business

  • Send invites for 3/24 party
  • Follow-up with invitees for recruiting party
  • Training video
  • Complete at least one additional hour of training
  • Book two more parties for March
  • Close party
  • Follow up with previous customers
  • Process return
  • Move inventory
  • Meeting on Thursday

Personal

  • Budget
  • Balance checkbook
  • Filing
  • Taxes (YUCK)
  • Scan pictures

Physical

  • Exercise 3 times
  • Drink 8 glasses of water per day

Cleaning

  • Kitchen
  • Floors
  • Downstairs bathroom
  • Upstairs bathroom
  • Ironing (my favorite)

How a Penny Taught My Daughter About Diversity

Diversity
All this month, because it is black history month, I have been thinking about how might be the best way to talk to my children about race.  My half-brother is bi-racial, and it’s important to me that my children be aware that God made all of us the same inside no matter how we look on the outside.  I’ve constantly been at work with this whenever we see somebody who is in a wheelchair or who has a visible deformity.

For instance, last week at the post office, we saw a man who had a severe limp.

“Why does that man walk funny?”  Rapunzel asked me, a little too loud for comfort.

I’m not sure if the man heard her, but if he did, I hope he heard my response as well.  I decided to tell her that sometimes people are born that way.  Sometimes, something happens to people–either they get sick or they are in an accident–that changes the way they look, move, or talk.  And that whatever the case, God made us all special and He loves us all the same.

The opportunity came to me on Monday to speak of race, when Rapunzel came home from

school having learned about the penny.  The worksheet she had asked who the president was on the front of the penny.

“Do you know who President Lincoln is?”  I asked (knowing she didn’t know, of course).

“No.”

From there, I gave a brief synopsis of slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation, emphasizing

the fact that our ancestors enslaved other people just because they looked different.

“Do you think God loves us any different because our skin is a different color?”  I asked.

“No,” Rapunzel replied.

“Did you know that Mommy’s brother has different colored skin?”

Rapunzel gasped.  “Really?”

“Yes,” I replied, “And actually, today is his birthday!  He is twenty-three.”

I proceeded to show her a picture.  “Isn’t he handsome?”  I asked.

“Yes, he is very handsome,” she replied, “Can I make him a birthday card?”

So I spent much time and effort looking for fun, cute printables on black history month just so I could teach my daughter about diversity, when really…all I needed was a penny.

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

Here’s another recipe that we had recently.  I found this one at Parents magazine.

Bean and Cheese QuesadillasIngredients:

  •  tablespoon olive oil
  •  small onion, finely chopped (we used half of a large one, because that’s what we had)
  • 1/2 small green pepper, seeded and chopped (we only had a large one, so I just used half of that)
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained and lightly mashed
  • 1/2 cup lower sodium salsa
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • package (10-count) fajita-size flour or whole-wheat tortillas (I made two quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas and one with flour tortillas)
  • ounces reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, shredded (we didn’t have any, so I used 4 ounces of Mexican blend cheese that we had lying around and 4 ounces of cheddar to minimize spiciness)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (we skipped on this, because I’m not a huge fan of cilantro in large amounts)
  • Extra salsa for serving (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, salsa, and chili powder. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Place over medium-high heat. Place one tortilla in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Spread 1/3 cup of the bean mixture and 1/3 cup of the cheese evenly over the tortilla. Sprinkle some of the cilantro over the top. Place another tortilla on top, and cook for 1 minute. Press gently with a spatula and turn. Cook for 1 minute or until browned.

3. Place quesadilla on a baking sheet and keep warm at 250 degrees in the oven. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make additional quesadillas. Allow skillet to cool slightly if it becomes too hot.

4. To serve, cut each quesadilla into quarters. Serve 3 quarters to each person.

Servings Per Recipe: 6; Amount Per Serving: cal.(kcal): 312, Fat, total(g): 13, chol.(mg): 23, carb.(g): 34, fiber(g): 5, pro.(g): 16, sodium(mg): 786, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Tinkerbell and Rapunzel weren’t a big fan of this one, but Prince Charming and I enjoyed it.  Rapunzel insisted it was too spicy; however, I’m pretty sensitive to spicy, and this didn’t bother me at all.  I’d probably make it again, and I think Wendy and Cinderella might like it too.

Children’s Book Review: Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep by Maureen Wright

Sleep Big Bear Sleep by Maureen Wright
This week, Rapunzel brought home a new book from the school library called Sleep, Big Bear Sleep by Maureen Wright.  I have to say this is probably the best book she’s brought home from school.

What’s even better is that, right now,  the kindergarten class is discussing what animals do in the winter.  In this book, the wind tries and tries and tries to tell Big Bear to go to sleep for the winter, but Big bear just doesn’t get it.

This book was not only well written, but it was a fun, imaginative story with fantastic illustrations by Will Hillenbrand.  This is one book that I would purchase to read over and over again.