Monday, February 28, 2011

Park Geek Resources

Raleigh is SO blessed to have so many outdoor spaces and parks. There are everywhere!!

One of my favorite websites for finding outdoor events and locations is Park Geek. The website has a plethora of great resources.

Park Geek even has a parks database for our area. I looked under our zip code and found 40 (Yes! 40!) parks/outdoor areas within 5 miles of our house! Looks like we will start with these for our Spring Park Tour.

You can also sign up for their newsletter which goes out weekly and tells you what is going on around the area as far as festivals, outdoor events at the parks, state recreation areas, museums and more!

Don't you want to get outside!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Starting to get Spring Fever!

It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain


Friday, February 25, 2011

Water Conservation in Action

Another idea for how you can be globally mindful?

Blood:Water Mission is sponsoring a Forty Days of Water challenge.

They are challenging you to only drink water during Lent (Mar 9-Apr 23) and donate the money you save on other drinks to help build wells in Africa.

For us, that's when we go to Chick-fil-A, or out to eat. Could I manage to give up my morning coffee (even if it is decaf?)

Even if we decided to give $.25 or $.50 per drink every time we are eating out (since we normally get water anyway). Blood:Water says that it only takes $1 to give an African water for an entire year. $1.

Are you ready to do something?

Post a comment and let me know if you want to participate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Water Conservation comes Home

In our house, we looked at our water bill and noted that in January, we used 206.3 gallons on average per day. Can we reduce that?

Here are 100 ideas for ways you can conservate water in your house. We are trying some of these and will let you know how we do this month!

Here are 5 quick ways that we are saving water:

1. Put the stopper closed when filling the tub for the kids.

2. Use the power of soaking dishes. A little water and 30 minutes can do wonders for cleaning dishes.

3. Stop the running water. Everywhere. We try not to let the water run. At all. Whether its washing hands, or washing dishes. You would be amazed at how much water goes just right down the sink.

4. Light load features on our clothes washer and dish washer get our clothes and dishes just as clean and take half the time and use half the water.

5. Reuse water that has been used. Especially when it comes to things like soaking, the water doesn't have to be perfectly clean to soak, since its a dish already dirty. So, if I have leftover pasta water, I'll pour that into a pot that needs to soak. The hot water breaks up the gunk and I've not used any extra water.

HERE are more ideas ....

Another idea? (To be continued)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Preparing for Lent

One week from today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

In my life, Ash Wednesday and Lent have been very powerful
times of rededication and commitment. Coming from a traditional upbringing in the Episcopal Church, I can distinctly remember going to church on Ash Wednesday and wearing the ashes home. Back in those days, I would give up things like chocolate or one year, oh how I remember, I gave up Dr.Pepper. I can still remember how sweet it was on Easter morning to have that Dr.Pepper with my breakfast. Let me tell you - I was celebrating for sure!

But in my youth, I recognized the value of giving up, but didn't really use as anything more than self-denial. I've matured a bit in my celebration of Lent and am looking forward to sharing it with my family this year as a time of returning, renewing, and refreshing.

Since I'm rather new to the Reformed Church, I've been interested to learn how it handles Lent. Here is a great article from a Presbyterian pastor in New York about Lent in the PCA.

As he says, "The point of Lent is not to give up chocolate; it’s to give up sin!" Thus, "What we do physically has an effect on us spiritually—and we neglect this principle to our peril."

Some of my favorite books to pull out for Easter:
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Henri Nouwen's Show me the Way (Lenten Readings)

Here are some helpful links:
A script for explaining Lent to your children. (Here)
Here's a calendar with readings and practices (from the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopalian)
Here's some tips on fasting from the same website
CatholicMom has lots of ideas (lesson plans, links, etc)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Water Conservation

Global Mindfulness in Action:

Fast Facts from World Vision

  • Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness.
  • More than 2.7 billion people have inadequate or nonexistent access to proper sanitation.
  • When a community gains access to clean water, its child mortality rate drops by half.
Something very simple for us here in America. Water is prolific. Cheap. Easy. You turn the faucet and water comes out. No questions asked. No walk. No bucket to get it to our house.

Watch this video from World Vision and it will remind you that for many in the world, it is not so.

So ...what can we do?

(To be continued)

Global Mindfulness

One of the priorities of both our family, and Lanham Academy (our homeschool) is global mindfulness.

What does "global mindfulness" mean?

We want to be aware of what is going on in the rest of the world.

We want to follow missionaries. Pray for them. Support them financially. We want to encourage them in any way that we can.

We want to be aware of situations around the world that reflect the hand of God at work. All you need to do is look at the Middle East right now and know that there is a lot going on.

We also want to be aware of how our choices affect the world at large. How does American consumerism affect the poor in Africa? How does my use of water here in Raleigh affect others? Where are others suffering? What can I do?

We want to draw our children out of their own little world into the bigger picture of what the Lord is doing. And in so doing, change a little piece of both our world and maybe somewhere else in the process.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Thanks ...

#31: The hum of the laundry running
#32: Baby news from a couple in our community group
#33: Missionaries who serve faithfully (Dave & Darlene Eby in Uganda)
#34: Friends who ask about you when you aren't at church
#35: Warmer weather
#36: Prepared dirt for plants to come
#36: A new card drive so that I can put pictures up more easily
#37: Goodie boxes from Nan
#38: Losing weight
#39: My hard-working hubby
#40: The words "Vacation" written on the calendar

Sunday, February 20, 2011

His Will

John Piper is back from his sabbatical and is preaching in the book of John. His sermons are always solid. No cutesy stories, no cliches - just meat and conviction and power.

Here is his sermon from this week ....

Willing God's Will As a Way of Knowing Christ's Word

His text is from John 7:1-24.

Take a listen! (Sermon length about 45 min)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Dirt

Dirt. Not quite beautiful, unless you think that all of us will one day be back to being .... dirt.
Logan asked me in the car the other day ...

"Mom, are we dirt?"

"Yes, honey"

"Will worms eat me?"

"One day, yes. When you put dead bodies in the ground, eventually, they do become dirt and I suppose then that, yes, worms will eat them."

"Will they make clothe out of me?"

*Surprised Mom* "Perhaps!" 

I thought about whether or not I had "ruined' my child by answering with the harsh realities of life. Then, though, I reminded myself that he needs to know that he is dirt. I am dirt. I came from dirt. Breathed from God and one day, I will return, as even my precious little one will.

All the more, Lord, teach us to number our days.

Psalm 90

From Everlasting to Everlasting
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
 1Lord, you have been our dwelling place[a]
   in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
   or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
 3You return man to dust
   and say, "Return, O children of man!"[b]
4For a thousand years in your sight
   are but as yesterday when it is past,
   or as a watch in the night.
 5You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
   like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
   in the evening it fades and withers.
 7For we are brought to an end by your anger;
   by your wrath we are dismayed.
8You have set our iniquities before you,
   our secret sins in the light of your presence.
 9For all our days pass away under your wrath;
   we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10The years of our life are seventy,
   or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span[c] is but toil and trouble;
   they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11Who considers the power of your anger,
   and your wrath according to the fear of you?
 12 So teach us to number our days
   that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
   Have pity on your servants!
14Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
   that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
   and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16Let your work be shown to your servants,
   and your glorious power to their children.
17Let the favor[d] of the Lord our God be upon us,
   and establish the work of our hands upon us;
   yes, establish the work of our hands!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life without TV

It's been just over a week since we cancelled DirecTV and have gone "TV-less". And I have to say, it's kind of nice.

The kids have watched a video here and there, but outside of that, they have played. And read books. And we've made Valentine's. And we've slept a little more than before.

Somehow, our children have been more creative. Trio blocks that were great before have become fabulously invented into new things ... boats for animals, tools.

There is more peace in our house.

Do I notice that it's gone?


There are times when I think "I would really like to watch the nightly news right now." And I remind myself that I could go up to the computer and watch it online.... but I don't.

Now, when March Madness rolls around, or football in the Fall, or the Olympics .... we may have to figure out how to watch stuff on the computer.

But for now .... we're enjoying life without it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One Thousand Gifts ... This morning ....

To start the week off right ... Give thanks.

#31: Warmer Spring-like weather
#32: The Valley of Vision
#33: M&Ms for Valentine's Day
#34: The hum of the laundry
#35: The small din of little voices playing
#36: A new week (maybe I will be thankful for that every week?)
#37: A new house for good friends
#38: A van that runs
#39: Flight itinerary received (Grandparents, BOTH OF THEM, are coming!)
#40: Medications that make a friend's child sick with pneumonia better

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Bert!

So today is my Bert's 35th birthday!

As part of his birthday, I asked our friends to tell me two words that described him.

We love this man who is ....

Mr.Wonderful (this from my great-aunt, no less)
(a) Pawnk (it's a term of endearment, really!)
Great Dad

Yep, that's my man!! 
As part of his present, I put all of these words into a word cloud. You have to check this out! It's so cool! Click HERE.
Happy Birthday Fukee!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back again to Weight Watchers

Last week, I started back again to Weight Watchers. Now, mind you, I'm a lifetime member. I reached goal weight in April of 2009. I can still remember the day and get little butterflies. 

Here is a pic from our celebration dinner (at the Cheesecake Factory, no less) ...

And now, I have the weight from two babies to loose.

I gained 30 lbs. going through the pregnancy and then miscarriage that we suffered in 2009. Can we say "emotional eater" all together?

Then, with Reed, I gained 50 lbs. (Now, this is 10 lbs. less than I gained with both Emily and Logan), but I was starting out at a higher weight from the miscarriage.

Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me. I have 75 lbs. to lose this time around. I know all that it takes, since I've done it before. So, I'll be sharing tips and tricks on my Blog, of course....

Tonight is my first weigh-in .... here we go!

Reason I want to lose weight No.1: To be able to bounce my baby on my hip and not on my fat
Tip No.1: Drink water. Shoot for 6 glasses. I try to drink one at every meal and snack (that makes for 6 right there!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gratitude this week

A new week. New thoughts. New starts.




and so I return thanks ....

#21 The humor of a preschooler
#22 The drawings of my girl
#23 Buds on the trees outside
#24 Larabars
#25 new friends at community group
#26 honest friends
#27 The Lord's prayer
#28 Dunkin' Doughnuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee
#29 Beds that are made
#30 "Juicy" babies (that's what the pediatrician called Reed)

Friday, February 4, 2011

What am I working on?

Blogs are great for accountability. Though I know that I don't have a "following" per se, like some wonderful blogs, the fact that the words are out there is both frightening and thrilling.

If I say, I'm going to run 10 miles today (I'M NOT!), then I said it. I put it on the web. Anyone, Someone can read it. Someone at church might ask me about it. A friend might read it and email me about it. Certainly my husband will ask about it. Months from now, someone might be reading old posts and ask me about that little run.

I'm one of those people that needs accountability. Dare I even say it ..... craves accountability. I confess that I sneak Hershey kisses from the pantry (potty treats for Logan). There I put it out there. Mercy! What next?

This weekend, I'm going to start working on our first priority for this year ...


Cleaning out half of our house.

I'm working on removing everything that is not directly useful or truly beautiful. We are drowning in our stuff.

And what will be left?

What will this free us to do?

What will we find at the end of it?

My first step commitment: In the month of February, I will work on decluttering our upstairs.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sanctifying the Ordinary

Here is my calling today - thoughts from Justin Taylor and Martin Luther ...

(Justin Taylor's original Blog entry)

Luther on Sanctifying the Ordinary

One of Luther’s great contributions to our view of the family involved the sanctification of the ordinary. Many sadly neglect their family and their friends because they are pouring all of their time into “ministry”—neglecting to see that all of life should be ministry and every sphere should be sanctified. We must have eyes to see that the ordinary duties of life contain great spiritual significance. Luther describes the message that the world whispers in our ear:
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . . , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores. . . ?” [LW 45:39]
But into this context Luther breathes fresh gospel air:
What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. . . . God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.[LW 45:39-40]
We must put on the spectacles of faith and see all of life as infused with meaning and significance by our Creator. Set in this context, Luther greatly elevated the place of the family within the church of Christ.

Excerpted from “Martin Luther and Marriage,” in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Candlemas!

Today is the celebration of Candlemas!

It also means that we are half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. After the winter that we have had here, I'm all for the news that Spring is on the way!

Tradition goes that on this day, Christians would take their candles to the priest and have them blessed for long life. It seems like a great reason to light a candle, pour some tea, and celebrate the Light of the World!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Celebrate Heart Month

In our house, we celebrate each month with a theme. For January, for example, is snow. Snowmen. Snowballs. Snowflakes, etc.

February moves us in to Valentine's Day. Hearts. Love. etc. We try to do crafts that will decorate our house with the theme all throughout the month. There are so many different ways to tie in each month's theme.

So, to help you get in the spirit, here are some of my favorite crafting websites ...

Kaboose - lots of fun crafts, food, games, etc. (my fav)

FamilyFun - the magazine, as well as the website, always have super ideas - almost too many to find time for.

Enchanted Learning - lots of printables as well as teaching materials for homeschoolers.

Michael's - Michael's has a special section for teachers, as well as ideas and supplies, and COUPONS!

And if your marriage is needing some lovin', check out FamilyLife and Focus on the Family ministries.