Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rebates and Receipts

Recently I began paying the bills (one less thing for Joshua to do while studying) and quickly learned a few important lessons.

Submit rebates immediately: the longer you wait, the greater the likelihood of forgetting entirely or waiting until it's too late. Then that great deal is no longer so great.

Keep track of those rebates: I didn't realize how important this was until just recently and am beginning to get a bit suspicious. Has anyone else had trouble with their rebates lately?

I submitted a rebate for a phone in January and by the end of March still hadn't received it. After a quick phone call they told me they had already sent it. It hadn't arrived. I asked if they could check and see if it had been used (perhaps it got stolen??) and was told that "we have no way of tracking rebates." Huh? When I called to request another one, I didn't have to prove a thing... but finally received my rebate.

About a month later, after submitting another rebate, I received a letter saying we didn't qualify (even though we did). A 2-minute phone call later and the rebate was in the mail. The exact same thing happened to a good friend.

So even though it might be a bit of a hassle, it's definitely worth keeping track of rebates. A five minute call is worth $100 to me.

Pay bills online: Not only does it save a stamp, but makes it very easy to pay immediately and keep track of fluctuations from month to month.

Hang on to receipts: ...for all those times when your word simply isn't enough. When switching internet services, I made sure to cancel our original provider before the next billing cycle began-which included a last minute trip to return the "box". I hate hanging on to extra pieces of paper, and since I wouldn't need to return anything, why bother?

A few weeks later a bill arrived from the old company for the new month. The customer service rep said, "well, it looks like you didn't cancel until the 13th and the new cycle started on the 4th."

"But I checked to see when the cycle began and specifically canceled before it."

"Well, the computer says you didn't cancel."

"I did cancel and we certainly didn't use your internet service after the 4th. Is there nothing you can do?"

"No, but you can pay the bill before it's late," she answered rather rudely.

...and then I remembered the receipt (which I'd reluctantly filed). What a difference it made.

"Oh, I am so sorry. I'll take care of that right away. There must have been a mistake in the recording. Please disregard the bill. So sorry for the trouble."

Linking to Frugal Fridays over at Life as Mom

photo by lusi

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Procrastination Wednesday

Joshua's in town studying and the rest of the family is gone for the day, so I get to spend a day alone with my little girl: listening to her sing, feeding the chickens together and even explaining why I can't take a turn on the little slide.

Much as I love time spent with our families, I've missed getting to hog her every smile, claim each kiss, listen to all her chatter and have her beside me the entire day. Especially with a new edition to our family on the way, each moment together is such a treasure to cherish!

But rather than cuddle up next to her for a nap, it is definitely time to tackle projects that need to get done and a few I've been procrastinating on for a while. Time for another No Procrastination Wednesday!

  • Determine the best option for William's birth and set up an appointment
  • Upload a video of Rose to Vimeo
  • Transfer the domain name for the blog
  • Start a train wall-hanging for William (sometime this coming week)
  • Figure out why our mail is not forwarding and fix it
  • List Joshua's old law school books on Amazon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two little princesses

We're at my family's house for a couple days. Rosalind and "Aunt" Kathryn have been having such a wonderful time together. It's so fun watching two generations playing side by side!

"Can we do it?" Getting ready to go down the slide together

Forget the stars! Let's go "cow gazing"

Just before nap time it got dangerously quiet... the little girls had crawled into Kathryn's bed and were "seeping" quite happily.

Scripture Memory

One of my goals for this year was to spend more time memorizing. Or rather, to start memorizing Scripture again.

Especially with another little one on the way, I've realized the importance of this goal. Life with two children will certainly pick up speed and having Scriptures to meditate on at two in the morning will be such a blessing. :)

Before Rosalind was born, when life seemed to have less interruptions, it was easier for me to find time to memorize. But for the last couple years, I really struggled making it a priority.

As I've started to memorize again, there are several things that I have found really helpful.
  • Set a reasonable goal: rather than starting out the year intent on memorizing a verse a day, only to give up in despair by the end of the month, pick something that will be challenging but very realistic, taking into account the unexpected twists and turns of life.
  • Write it out: whether in calligraphy to hang on the wall or on a scrap of paper, writing it down makes it much easier to remember.
  • Use the odd moments: waiting to get the oil changed or rocking the little one to sleep, there are so many times throughout the day that can be snatched and used.
  • Be accountable: even with all the busyness of law school and finals, my dear husband offered to memorize with me. Not only does it make it much more fun, but memorizing with a friend is certainly good motivation.
  • Remembering why: Right after the first of the year, the nausea and extreme exhaustion of early pregnancy hit and for the next two and a half months I only memorized the first four verses of Hebrews. But what wonderful verses they are! Really, you could spend a whole year thinking about just those four verses. And that of course is the goal, not to cross a chapter off the list, but to have Scriptures to ponder.
What have you found helpful for Scripture memory?

photo by H Dominique Abed

Monday, May 25, 2009

William update

Sorry this is so late--we've been having internet issues. :)

A pound and a half! How quickly a baby grows: I can hardly believe our son is 25 weeks along already.

Our just-before-leaving Doctor's appointment brought good news. William is healthy, adorable and growing well. The blood results from last time all came back with negative antibody screenings, eliminating one major cause of concern. And though it isn't possible to tell for certain, from what the Doctor could see the placenta has not attached to the uterine wall yet. God has certainly been answering prayers!

We will be having more tests as the due date arrives that should help us find out more definitely, but are so grateful things look to be going so well. Know we are trying to determine what course would be best here in Missouri. Safety is obviously the first concern, but if we aren't as high risk as was first thought, it might open up more options. We would certainly appreciate your prayers for wisdom!

The burst of energy I had after the first trimester passed seems to be waning, but hopefully it is just from all the busyness and adjustments of moving.

Since I am beginning to show more, it has made the concept of a baby a little easier for Rosalind to if only she would hold still long enough to feel him moving! But whether she understands fully or not, Rose is so excited about having a baby brother and I can hardly wait!

Friday, May 22, 2009


As soon as we finished our Doctor's appointment last Friday (update coming soon), we loaded up the car to head to Missouri for the summer. Somehow Joshua fit all our summer necessities, a big box full of law books, the printer, laptops and scrapbooking stuff in our little Honda Civic. I was quite impressed!
wooden train ride

It has been wonderful getting to spend time with our families again... and escape the sweltering southern summer! Now we are all settled in to Joshua's parent's lovely guest bedroom and are adjusting to life away from home... the challenge being to maintain some structure and family time when it's just too fun getting to play with all her aunts and uncles.

After a week the camera finally managed to make its way out of the case for a few pictures:

School time with Uncle Mac
Mac was busy doing school, so Rose pulled up a chair and joined him

Time to feed the pigs
Going to look at the pigs with Daniel

It's going to be like having big brothers (and sisters) for the summer. She's loving it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reflections for a Rainy Day...

"It is half atheism to murmur against Nature, for Nature is God's commissioner."

"Keep me therefore, O my gracious God, in such a proportion of both strengths, as I may still have something to thank thee for, which I have received, and still something to pray for and ask at thy hand."

~ John Donne
from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

photo by Doc

Friday, May 15, 2009

Around the blogosphere

spring irisBlogging advice from a professional: From how to boost content to instructions for increasing page ranking, Scribbit's new free e-book "Blogging in Pink", covers it all. (Be careful though--you might stay up past midnight reading it!)

International Mama's
post about Priority Adjustments was just the encouragement I needed.

Charming or practical is the question posed at The Homespun Heart. Just the pictures of Monica's lovely picnic are enough to inspire those who lean to the more practical side (like me) to attempt the charming.

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers shared a humorous tip about the most obvious way to save money.

Just for fun: Firearm Salesman of the Year

photo by Samuel Rosa

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Insulting Burglary

While beginning the task of packing for the summer, I started to worry about leaving our home for such a long time. What if someone breaks in while we're gone? I quickly realized however, that there wouldn't be much to tempt a burglar. We don't have a flat screen tv, any consoles or video games, antique collections or ipods and we've experienced first hand a burglar's opinion of our musical tastes.

The laptops, my two pieces of expensive jewelry and the scrapbooks are coming with us. Scrapbooks are on the most stolen list, right?

Hmmmm... maybe I shouldn't worry. ;)

burglar hand printUntil a year and a half ago, we hardly gave burglars a second thought. Then on Christmas Eve when we went to get in the car for a morning service, the passenger door was slightly ajar. Looking inside, the seats were covered in papers from the glove box and a gaping whole replaced the car stereo. Not exactly the best Christmas present--for us at least.

To make it even worse, we noticed that the burglar had rummaged through the cds in the car. But as we put them all back it was clear that not a single one had been stolen. How insulting! What's wrong with Gilbert & Sullivan, Ray Vaughn William's orchestral arrangments or operas, pray tell?

After that, we religiously locked our car...until one night two weeks later. And once again we had a visit. Apparently, the burglar was looking for the remote. He didn't find it. Rosalind had claimed it as her own personal phone and hardly parted from it for months.

Nothing seemed to be stolen, but when we got to church and reached for the box of Altoids, we realized we hadn't escaped unscathed. He stole our Altoids. Of all the nerve!

Moral of the story: Buy Altoids, but lock your car doors.

Note to would-be burglars: We're even taking the Altoids with us. Sorry! Interested in Constitutional Law? We are leaving a few textbooks.

photo by Penny Mathews

Getting ready...

Or The day after which I procrastinated...

Law School Daddy

It's been a busy week. At about five o'clock on Tuesday, Joshua finished his last exam for the year. I can scarcely believe that the first year of law school is over: the dreaded, grueling, sleep-deprived first year is really done!

While the warnings that he would be studying 'til 3 (or 6) in the morning have certainly been fulfilled many times, looking back it has been a good year.

Not just a year to make me proud of my dear husband, but one in which our relationship has deepened, our baby has grown up and wonderful new friendships have been cultivated. A year of trusting and learning to accept "no" and of being established as our own little family.

We celebrated and went out for barbecue for the first time since moving down (we're not the best Southerners yet, I'm afraid.)

Since then we've just been enjoying time as a family and tackling the last few cleaning projects. I'm afraid some of the things on my list just won't get done. Oh well, it's time to get packing....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Swagbucks--it's all over the web. But if you don't currently use it, it is basically just a search engine that awards you points for searches you run. The search results are practically the same as from Google or other search engines only you get rewarded with points: usually one to three a day.

Every 45 points can be redeemed for a $5 Amazon gift card (there are tons of other prizes too of course). You don't have to do anything special except search through their site.

I've simply made Swagbucks my home page* and run my searches through them. What a simple way to save money! :)

Search & Win

*They have both a classic and an "ad-filled" home page version. I'd pick the classic. ;)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Simplifying the Wardrobe

As I've been getting Rosalind's room ready for the addition of a little brother, I've been trying to find ways to keep it open and uncrowded feeling. One major area of challenge is the dresser. It's so easy when you have space to fill it up--especially when you're blessed with generous grandparents, lots of darling hand-me downs and great garage sale finds.

But preparing to welcome another child into our little home makes simplifying all the more alluring.

A simple goal: I'm a mom. I want my little girl to be dressed cute and "girlie" and I don't want to have to wash laundry every day. ;) But it certainly doesn't take a dresser full of clothes or half a dozen pairs of shoes to accomplish this!

While sorting through her summer clothes and determining what she'll need for the winter (so I can shop garage sales), a few questions came to mind.

How many messy is your child? Rose can easily go through two or three outfits a day (and I know sons are even messier), but usually it is more like one or two outfits daily. And of course, if it isn't dirty, don't wash it!

How often do you do laundry? I have two days each week that are "empty laundry basket" days (even if it does only last five minutes), so she needs less clothes than if I catch up on laundry just once a week.

And finally, using need in the loosest sense possible, What clothes does my child need to be presentable, cute and clean?

Here is the simple list that I compiled for Rosalind. Any suggestions would be very welcome!

  • Dress clothes: Two or three outfits.
  • Everyday clothes: Seven or eight outfits. Since Rosalind has been given so many adorable jumpers/sundresses these two categories tend to overlap. I can't bear to only let her wear them to church. :) Oh well!
  • Pajamas: Especially in the summer I don't think they're necessary. Rosalind usually just wears a fresh comfortable play outfit or onesie (that I can throw a jumper or overalls on top of in the morning) or else a comfortable but slightly-too-small outfit from last year. In the winter a couple warm snugly pairs are great.
  • Shoes: dress shoes and a pair for everyday play (if they're neutral all the better!)
  • For girls: Hair bands, ribbons and bows. Perhaps the simplest difference between unkempt and tidy is simply making sure hair isn't covering the eyes.
  • Summer fun: Swimwear, "wet shoes" and a sunhat or two.
  • Winter warmth: Jacket, gloves, hat and winter boots.
  • ...and bibs: Twenty or thirty might be enough.
Links to: the Simple Mom's spring cleaning projects
and Works for me Wedensdays


Question 114. But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?

Answer: No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.

Question 115. Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them?

Answer: First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavour and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.

Selection from the Heidelberg Catechism read at church yesterday

photo by chris wheatley

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Gift of Grandmothers

Much has been said about the importance of godly mothers in the training of children, but not nearly as much about godly grandmothers. But what a blessing they are and how much easier it makes said training when the grandmothers stand beside and support you!

"Spoiling the grand kids rotten" seems to be the ideal of many Western grandparents. While Rosalind has most certainly been spoiled by her two wonderful grandmas, I'm so grateful that it's been in a way that helps, not hinders her training.

Involved beyond the short term:

It's not uncommon for parents to welcome home their children after a weekend at the grandparent's only to find them loaded with candy, begging for more and more tv and running completely wild. As I overheard one grandma say, "I only have them for the weekend, so I might as well spoil them."

While a bit of candy (especially chocolate ;), or an occasional good movie are great, I'm so grateful that Rosalind's are involved beyond the short term and focus on making memories with her that surpass candy and popcorn.

And to have grandmas that actually reinforce the training received at home--that's so rare! But time and again they've encouraged her to "listen to Mama right away" or "run obey with a happy face".

A repertoire of wisdom:

Having both raised large family themselves, they have such wisdom to share with me. It's such a blessing to be able to call up when I need advice on what to do about her fever, help for some aspect of child-training or just plain encouragement. And even when I do things differently than they did, they are still so supportive.

Gifts, gifts, gifts:

Shortly before Rosalind was born I asked the grandparents if they'd mind not showering her with noisy flashy toys. (Since children generally make enough noise on their own! ;) I'd far rather have a few good quality toys that will last for many years than a room overflowing with cheap plastic ones.

Ahem...well, she's been showered with more than a few toys, but each gift has been so thoughtful and well-loved. From the cutest baby quilt ever to the sweet dollies (and stroller!), beautiful books, and well-loved train they've helped make her room a little girl's haven or provided countless hours of creative fun.

Oh and the clothes!!! Between hand-me-downs and surprise packages in the mail, I've hardly had to buy a thing for Rosalind.

Thank you! While Rose certainly has been spoiled, it's been in the best possible way. Grandma and Nonnie--you are such an incredible blessing! Thanks for being such wonderful Mothers and Grandmothers.

And thanks to all the other godly grandmothers as well. We need far more like you!

Since Rosalind can't give you the pretty "flowers" she picked (with the stems!!), she at least wanted you to see a picture of them.

Links to: Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

Friday, May 8, 2009

Devotions on Emergent Occasions

If each era has its own preoccupation, it would be safe to say that ours is not death. Modern medicine, longevity and no World War on our front steps have made it easy to pass by this important part of life, making this book written centuries ago by John Donne all the more timely.

Written while on his sickbed, this collection of devotions cover 23 different aspects of sickness and death. Whether it be "the consultation of the doctors" or "upon hearing the church bells ringing" Donne first ponders the topic, weaving an argument that draws the attention to the goodness of God, then expostulates upon it and closes with a prayer.

My favorite meditations have been on sleepless nights and the ringing of the church bells. Rather than complaining about wakeful nights, Donne turns them into a chance to meditate upon the sleep of the beloved. Why does God not grant him this sleep? Is he not among the beloved? After many lovely twists he ends by turning the cry of the beloved "I sleep, but my heart wakes" to "I wake, but my heart sleeps." Concluding that though God has not granted him the quiet repose of the body, his soul sleeps peacefully in the love and will of God.

"No man is an island, entire to himself....therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee... every man's death diminishes me" These famous lines are in reference to the common 17th century practice of ringing the church bell when someone fell dangerously sick or died. Rather than sending to ask for whom it rang, he used it as a reminder of the imminence of death to each one of us and occasion to plead for the soul of the departing . We are all part of frail humanity and every occasion to ponder the brevity of life should be taken with gratitude.

In this way, Donne repeatedly takes each trial and hope of sickness and impending death and turns it into a chance for meditation.

photo by Federico Belloli

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No Procrastination Wednesday : All for Rose

How the days are flying by! Less than a week now 'til finals and the first year of law school are over.

The Master List is slowly dwindling, but there is still so much left to do before we leave.

Time for a new set of "No Procrastination" goals. I so love the accountability of posting goals. Anyone care to join me? Today I'm going to tackle Rosalind's room and wardrobe.
  • Fix bumpers (as you can see from the pictures, they tend to bunch up in the middle)
  • Finish shirt and make capris (the shirt is done, but I decided she doesn't need the capris--or rather, that I just don't have the time to make them)
  • Go through Rosalind's clothes and make a list of winter clothes she'll need
  • Wash stroller thoroughly
  • Find a good natural bug spray for Rosalind that works (mosquitoes love her)
  • Record scriptures/catechism questions for Rosalind
Hopefully it won't take me all week this time!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Procrastination update ;)

My procrastination projects turned into a week long affair with one project leading to another. First on the list was to tackle the cupboards and counters: my goal being to clear everything off my little counter but the coffee maker.

My little helper

Even with the limited cupboard space, I was able to clear out a decent pile of stuff that I didn't use often enough to warrant keeping, creating plenty of room for the displaced Kitchenaid. Then, to my delight, a thorough rearrangement of the spice cupboard created space for the spice rack.

Above the stove is much more practical than by the sink

...which means I don't need extra shelves added. This is great since I'd either have to disturb Joshua's study time right before finals to have him cut and install them for me or end up in the ER with a missing finger when I attempted to use the saw myself.

After getting the kitchen de-cluttered, we headed over to Candace's house for a "scrapbooking morning"; which turned into an impromptu sewing party instead. She had the cutest pattern for a girl's sunhat which she let me use (as well as her material and sewing machine since I hadn't planned on sewing). It was so fun to finally sew something for my little princess! Thanks Candace!

Modeling her new hat... and my Crocs

On the way home we stopped to pick up material for curtains and napkins, but arrived home empty-handed. Maybe I'll just make the shirt for Rose instead, I thought. After getting things cut I went searching for interfacing. Where was that box of sewing stuff? Oh yeah...buried in a box behind the couch. After pulling it out I realized that I actually had material in the box too. But in a box behind the couch is rather hard to get to. So I reorganized the hall closet to make room...

better than behind the couch, methinks!

...while organizing the material, I found a bit of fabric that would work great for napkins...

...never mind the fact that there was only enough for two!

Then back to sewing for Rosalind. I've really enjoyed getting to sew something for her at last, but it sure has taken me longer to finish.

I still haven't made curtains, but just love my "new counter".

Links to: Tackle it Tuesday and Talk about it Tuesday

Monday, May 4, 2009

Coconut success and menu plan

Sometimes I feel like a little kid when I open up the jar of coconut oil. For some silly reason, I'm always curious to know just how solid or liquid it will be this time. It melts and hardens so quickly depending on the temperature of the room it could almost work as a thermostat.

Anyway, in an effort to completely clear out the freezer and fridge before leaving, I haven't gone shopping at all the last few weeks except for the few perishable necessities like milk and veggies. I had no idea how much food I'd managed to cram into the freezer!

As I whipped up some creamed chicken to serve over biscuits I realized that we just had one and a half sticks of butter left (and no shortening in the cupboard). What should I do? I really didn't want to use it up now. Then, remembering how solid coconut oil is when refrigerated for a few minutes I decided to give it a try...and even found a recipe for coconut oil biscuits. Joshua didn't notice a difference at all and if anything I thought they were a bit more flaky than butter biscuits.

Besides cooking, Lindsay has a great list of other things to do with coconut oil that I've been slowly trying. I've begun using it as a facial lotion after showering and have finally found something natural which leaves my face feeling moisturized that Joshua actually likes. ;) Her simple deodorant recipe also works way better than any of the over-priced natural kinds --without the dangerous ingredients found in regular deodorant.

Back to the kitchen: I was excited to find that we have the perfect amount of food left in the freezer for easy-to-prepare dinners until we leave. As Rosalind would say, "yaaaay!" ;)


Cinnamon rolls and eggs
Pumpkin bread
Blueberry coffee cake
Yogurt smoothies
Applesauce muffins
Eggs, bacon and hash browns
Cereal (hopefully we can empty all the open boxes!)


Skillet chops with mashed potatoes and gravy
Chicken enchiladas
Leftover fennel and white bean soup
Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
Springfield-style cashew chicken
Leftover lentil rice casserole
Brats fried in a potato skillet
Hamburger noodle toss
Baked potato bar

For many many menu plans go here.

photo by tarin janjobkatt

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Not yet gleaming in glory"

"This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified."

~Martin Luther

photo by ehsan namavar

this lovely quote was shared last week in church.