Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homegroup Blues

When my husband and I lived in Misawa, Japan, we had a small group that we were a part of and they were our lifeline. We did "life" with these people. I know it was a unique situation because we were all "stuck" in Japan so we became each others family. We met every week no matter what was going on - it was something that was a non-negotiable on our calendar, more important than even making it to the chapel service on Sunday. Our group would study God's word together, play games together, celebrate b-days and holidays together and like I said, "do life" together.

Mark and I love the church we go to now, we are fed each week by the pastor's sermons and we are able to use our spiritual gifts by serving in the church in some form or fashion. Our daughter has friends to play with there and she loves her Sunday School teachers. The only thing that was missing was that we weren't "doing life" with any of the people from church. We would see church friends at church and that was pretty much it.

At the beginning of the summer, our pastor asked us what we thought of doing a home small group...of course we jumped all over that, it was like an answered prayer. The group met for about 4 or 5 Fridays and we enjoyed every minute of that time to actually meet with our church family outside of church and get to know others better. Then, we got to a Friday where many of the people couldn't meet, so we didn't. Now, it is like the group just fell of the face of the earth.

I think, as humans, we need those connections with others and as Christians those connections should be at church. We expressed our concerns to our pastor and we may go back to having the home small group meetings but he isn't sure because of the lack of commitment from most people.

This makes me so sad, my husband and I desire to do "life" with our church family - to be involved in each other's lives so we can pray and encourage each other. A friend reminded me that it is what God desires of us as well - just look at the church in the book of Acts - they met at each other's houses, ate together, talked, prayed, encouraged and went out together to spread the word.

My husband and I are praying that this group will be implemented again and that it will be in line with God's will for us. Having these connections and a group to hold you accountable is so important.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Childless Week

Two weeks ago, I met my mom in Little Rock, Arkansas, so she could take my daughter to stay with her for about 2 weeks. My mom lives about 20 hours from us, so I wasn't sure how this was going to work but I knew it would probably be harder on me than my little girl. So, I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish while I was childless. I was going to clean and organize and, of course, spend some quality time with my husband.

Turns out, my husband was sick for the first week so he was home, instead of at work, and I was caring for him. As a result, I wasn't able to get nearly as much as I wanted done. Last week, I was getting a little bit frustrated because this wasn't going like I planned, but then I was reminded that the things I wanted to get accomplished were all temporal things: steam cleaning carpets, organizing closets, finishing photo albums. But the things I have had time for have been more eternal type things: caring for my husband, reading God's word, praying, spending time at Neighborhood Night Out w/ my church, and resting.

The childless time isn't over yet, but basically I am reminded that God's plan is always better for us than the plan we come up with ourselves. I'm just excited that my little girl has been able to have this time with her Nana to create some lasting memories.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Grocery Shopping Progress

I have been clipping coupons for a few months now, and at first I was getting really frustrated with the whole thing because I wasn't really saving any money. With the organizing tips from my friends at church and the continued support from my husband, I think I am starting to get the hang of it. I'm not a super saver, yet, but I am buying double the amount of food I was buying before and paying the same amount as I was before I started clipping coupons.

Yesterday, I went to Kroger and I spent $152 but I saved and $82. I think the part that I am most proud of is that I bought 107 items, so I payed like $1.50 for each item. That means I spent $1.50 on a box of slim fast drinks for my husband and $1.50 for 3 lbs of ground beef for my family and $1.50 for a 5 lb bag of chicken. I know that might not mean a lot to some people, but for me that is major progress! :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mini Pre-school

My daughter is only 2, but she desires to go to school already and she is like a sponge right now - always asking a million questions so...
I decided to take one of the rooms in our house (technically the breakfast room) and turn it into a school room.  The only thing that is missing is a table a chairs, but I'm just waiting for a good deal on those.  This room combined with my degree in elementary education and a preschool website I found: will be the tools I will use to "homeschool" my daughter over the next few months.  I am probably going to homeschool her on a more structured basis when she turns 4, but I'm still praying about that. 

Here is my plan for the next 2-3 months:
Bible story and memory verse from 20 Bible Verses Every Child Should Know - focus on one story and one verse a week

Carrie the Caring Cat - character education, making things for others and helping others

Focus on the letter A - writing it, sounds of short and long, things that begin with A.  Finding the letter a in books, making a things that begin with a collage.

Apple exploration using the 5 senses, cutting open the apple and counting the seeds, apple painting, making apple trees in the different seasons, reading books on apples.

Angels - angels in the Bible, make an angel craft to give away at Christmas time, shapes

Astronaut - books about astronauts, talking about space, planets and stars, star crafts, shapes

Acorns - go out and collect some, count them, explore them

Ants - observe them, read books about them

My thought is to focus on one topic a week, with the Bible verse, character education and the letter A being a continuing focus.  Then, after finishing the A topics, I will move onto topics beginning with the letter B and change the character education topic from caring to respect.  My B topics will be: Bible, baker, bananas, broccolli, balloons, butterflies, and bats.

I hope to just give her a general overview of all these topics while incorporating science, math, and reading skills.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zucchini cookies and bread

A while back, I went to the store and bought a lot of zucchini. I like zucchini but the rest of my family can do w/o it so I was having a hard time trying to use it before it went bad until I found these 2 recipes in a book called Brown Bag Success. I made these and my family and friends ate up the zucchini in no time.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini cookies

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 med zucchini grated (1 cup)
1 cup semi-sweet choc chips
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, cream magarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
Mix well.
Add zucchini and choc chips.
Spray cookie sheet, drop cookie mixture by tablespoonfuls onto sheet.
Bake 15-20 min or until browned.

Zucchini Bread

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix well
Pour batther into a loaf pan sprayed w/ cooking spray.
Bake 1 hour or until browned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Completing Him Challenge

I know this is really late, but I did want to share what I learned from the challenge.

Doing the marriage challenge allowed me to bring up some serious topics in a light-hearted way and receive some really important information from my husband. It was easy to ask where he saw our family in 10 years with the buffer that I needed to know for a blog I was writing. Sometimes, I have a hard time bringing those topics just out of the blue because he wants to know why I'm thinking about that stuff.

I learned that I really need to help my husband out in being mindful of what I spend and trying to get rid of our debt because that is a goal that he is working towards for our family.

Also, I learned that there are some meals that I cooked before we had a child that he would really like to have again. So, I am in the process of putting those in the rotation of what we eat. :)

The final part of the challenge was relating to behind the bedroom doors stuff and I learned that (again) some of the things I used to do (before our daughter) are things that my husband would like to see again. It might be a little more difficult to make time for those things with a child in the house, but I think it also makes it more meaningful.

My goal is to keep up with the things I learned from the challenge and remember to keep my husband a top priority, right after Our Heavenly Father and remember to ask him about these things often because I just might learn something. :)