What I’m Into: February 2016

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Howdy, howdy….

Welcome to the most “blah” month of the year! Yay!

Here are some things that our family is into lately:

Vaseline Rosy Lips. I love lip balms and glosses that work, and ones that are slightly tinted are just my cup of tea. This one in a cute tiny tub from Vaseline has been in my purse all winter and I really like it.

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Rock the Park. This is a recently added show on Netflix that we discovered. It’s very family friendly and follows a pair of young guys as they explore the National Parks one by one. We’ve only watched a few episodes so far but have learned lots.

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Speaking of National Parks, we have planned for a week-long summer vacation at Acadia National Park in Maine! I am super excited for this as it looks spectacular. If anyone has suggestions for things to do in that vicinity, let me know. This will be our first time there.

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Wraps and Shawls. I’ve been working on a few of these, all with a different design. The one in the picture was made out of Homespun Yarn with the color name of “Painted Desert.” Please excuse the sweatpants, it was a stay-at-home day;)

The crock pot. I typically don’t use it as much as I should, but lately I have. So handy!

My Side of the Mountain. Another recent addition on Netflix. Most of my kids have read the book, so it was nice to watch the movie version. (Except we had tears from one son when Frightful gets shot in the movie and doesn’t get back up.) Otherwise we all thought it was good.

Real Mom Thoughts During a Blizzard

Day 3 is on. Yes, my friends, this is our third full day of being snowed in and I’m proud to say that I’m still sane. Maybe I’m weird or maybe I’m normal, but here are some actual real streams of consciousness that I have during these events. If you know me in real life, you know I’m not some fakey perfect person. I just told someone recently that my parenting style is definitely not always Mary Poppins, it’s more like Bernie Mac sometimes! Truth.

Anyway, read on if you wish. Other fellow Moms can hopefully relate!

Pre-Blizzard-the morning of:

7 Am: I’ve got this. Groceries? Already bought beforehand. We shouldn’t need anything for a good couple of days. We are set. I am not one of those people who will run out at the last minute today and buy 10,000 things to “stock up.” That is ridiculous.

8 AM: Okay, I’ve just watched something on the news about having your gas tank filled up before a big storm. Do I go or not? Hmmm…the tank was getting pretty low. I’ll just run out and fill it, that way it’s all set for after the storm.

8:05: Oh crap. I just checked our snow boot stash and one child is minus a decent pair. Guess I’ll look for some while I’m out—if there’s any left, that is.

9:30: (at the store) Whew! Snow boots are bought, even in the size we needed. Sweet! Let me look for something “new” for the kids to do while we’re at home. What about a puzzle? A big one that’ll take hours to put together? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

9:35: What the world am I thinking? Do I really want some ginormous 1,000 piece puzzle with cats or some such all taking over my kitchen table? No, I do not.  The puzzle is not happening. Again, WTH was I thinking?

3 PM: Okay, got the house in order, though I know it won’t stay that way long. Got myself a little quiet time before the crew comes home. I’m ready for this. Actually, I’m getting pretty excited about the storm too!

6 PM: Flakes are falling steadily now. It’s nice to be tucked in for probably the weekend. There are lots of projects I can tackle while we’re snowed in. This will be kinda fun.

8 PM: Okay, I just now remembered to check our fuel oil gauge in the basement. It is down to like 1/8 tank. This makes me a little nervous. Can one cold and windy weekend suck up that much oil? Can it? Oh Lord…I hope not…too late to do anything about it now!! Not even going to mention it to the man.

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SATURDAY-THE DAY OF

8 AM: Ooohh….so pretty! Can’t believe how much snow we’ve gotten already. These kids are SO excited.

9 AM: Just sent the kids (& husband) outside after a big ole breakfast. Maybe I’ll go out too after cleaning up some things.

9:05 AM: Eh, maybe not. This is sort of nice. I’ll watch them shovel from the window.

9:15 AM: Someone’s back in already and tracking snow all up in here. Glad I decided to stay in. Someone has to deal with all the gear.

1 PM: Just got lunch cleaned up and time to throw in a movie. Oh sheesh. These people are already fighting about what they do or don’t want to watch and it’s taking forever just to pick one thing out.  Lord have mercy. Keep it together Rachel.

3 PM: Okay, they’re headed back out again. It is super windy, still snowing hard, and COLD! I am going to be a wimp and stay in. That’s ok, right?

3:05 PM: But maybe I’ll feel guilty that I’m not a “cool Mom” who loves to play in a blizzard with her kids.

3:20 PM: Never mind. Who cares? I don’t. Besides, here comes a kid all frosted up like a popsicle. Time to deal with 5 million wet gloves, snow pants, and socks again. Thank God the electric has held out so I can run the dryer!!

5 PM: Still snowing hard. I go back and forth between wanting to watch the news for updates and flipping it off because it’s repetitious and gets on my nerves. Do I need this talking head to tell me that there are a couple feet of snow out? Nope.

5:15 PM: These reporters do keep mentioning something about checking outside pipes so they aren’t blocked and carbon monoxide doesn’t build up. Maybe we should do that.

6 PM: My husband rocks. He just cooked up the best batch of soup and we ate like crazy. This having him around so much is nice.

8 PM: Okay, he’s crunching an apple and it makes me want to throttle him. Not a fan of mouth noises. I’m going to leave the room so I don’t have to listen to it!

9 PM: Kids are almost ready for bed. Wait, how many things did I accomplish that I actually planned to do? Ah, who cares…looks like we’re home for another day or so anyhow.

10 PM: Oh crap. We forgot to check the carbon monoxide pipe thing. Do I want to bundle up now, go outside, and double check this? Do I? Nah…feeling tired…

The day after the Blizzard:

8 AM: We’re all alive. Guess we didn’t die in our sleep. Thank you Lord.

9 AM: Just had another fabulous meal. I better go outside and catch some exercise so I don’t gain like a thousand pounds while we’re home like this.

9:05 AM: In the meantime, I’ll embrace being in my nice, comfy, stretchy pants.

11 AM: Oh wait. I just realized my kids are wearing the same thermal pj’s they wore yesterday. They call it their “base layer.” Never mind. Who cares besides me? Not like anyone else is going to see us today. I can wash them tomorrow.

1 PM: Okay, I’m thinking they’re going to cancel school tomorrow. Do I want that? Do I want another day at home? The house is a mess….trying not to let it bug me. Embrace the mess. Embrace the mess. That’s what an in-the-moment Mom would do, right?

3 PM: Got the robo-call from the school district. Looks like we’re home for another day or two. That’s okay. If we had school Monday there were a LOT of things on my plate. Not sure I feel like that much adulting post-blizzard. Maybe it’s better this way…

 

 

 

What I’m Into: January 2016

THE A-TEAM -- Pictured: Mr. T as Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus -- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank

Here’s a quick peek at some random things either myself or the family is into as of late:

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*The A Team. My boys are currently obsessed with the old episodes of this show. Obsessed, I tell ya. The awesome van, lots of guns, vehicles constantly being blown up…what’s not to love, right?

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Also, they’ve nicknamed their sister B.A. For some reason she’s not a fan….

*Yo-yo’s. They recently had an assembly at school where someone showed off yo-yo skills while storytelling. I now have dueling yo-yo’s going on here in the wee hours of the morn. Fun times.

*Taxes. No, I don’t love paying them. The big new thing for me is that I found seasonal employment in an office which does tax preparations–for the Amish! It’ll likely be some clerical stuff, with maybe some e-filing thrown in. So..I guess I’ll be getting educated on tax forms and such ASAP!!

*Kettle bells. I meant to put this in my December post, but I completely forgot until after the fact! Anyway, I was doing really well with consistently working out earlier in December, then fell off the wagon over the holidays. Now I’m starting back up with them again.

*Raising Kingdom Kids by Tony Evans. My husband and I will be co-teaching this series in a Sunday School class beginning next weekend. We are very excited about presenting this material to our church and learning as a couple in the process.

Well folks, that’s it for now. Thanks for tuning in.

I’m currently hearing kids humming the A-Team theme music, so I better go.

Catch you next time–fool!

Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Things from 2015

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Today I am sharing some of the most memorable things that happened within our family in 2015. Oh boy, what a memorable one it surely was! The first seven to eight months I would describe overall as just “rough.” Sure, there were lots of blessings thrown in there, but it was full of literally one challenge or mishap after another. I may be able to just title this post “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” (This is where I should insert James 1 verses in…)

Thankfully this fall was pretty smooth and we haven’t had anything major happen in awhile–thank you LORD!! I promise to put plenty of good stuff in here lest you think I’m a drama queen or a big whiner.

So…after polling my kids and reflecting for myself, this is what was noteworthy for the Craig family this year:

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Longwood Gardens. This was one of the great highlights for us. At the tail end of 2014 we purchased a year-long family pass to this amazing place and I am SO glad we did! It is incredibly beautiful in each and every season and we visited there a number of times. As I am a highly visual person, this was a bright spot of refreshment for me.

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Jeff lost a finger. Yup, I’m just gonna go there now and get it out of the way. You know how the Chinese have The Year of The Dog or The Monkey? I may forevermore think of 2015 as The Year of the Finger. One unfortunate run-in with the lawn mower belt on July 3rd and our summer took a completely different turn. (You can read more about it at these posts–9 out of 10 and It’s In the Bag.) As a recent update, he is doing just fine and adjusted great after he was finally able to work full time. Also, a big praise is that he hasn’t had as much sensitivity to cold and pain that he was warned he may have at this stage of healing.

As a funny aside, this morning we saw something on the news about New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Good old Josh, my little guy with a twisted sense of humor, piped up with this goodie:”My resolution is for no one to chop off a finger this year.”

My oldest had his first job this summer. He mostly lived at and worked for a nearby camp. At summer’s end he thanked me for letting him have this experience at barely fourteen. It was good for him in many ways, and taught me some in the process too. (Mostly how to learn to “let go” a little bit as a parent…hello teenage years!)

Also, my second oldest had his first job a few mornings a week on my in-laws’ dairy farm. He was grandma’s helper in feeding her “babies.” Sometimes a younger sibling or two tagged along to help as well!

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Andrew broke his humerus, and it wasn’t very humorous. Sorry, I’m trying to be punny…..er, funny. This actually happened early on in the year. One day our oven element caught on fire and I had it pulled out to remove the busted part. In the process I sprayed cleaner along the cruddy sides of the stove/oven and in the process got the kitchen floor all slippery. What on earth does that have to do with Andrew’s arm? Well, that slippery floor led to a fall later that night, which led to a busted upper arm….see, A Series of Unfortunate Events!

Not long after he healed up and literally not even a day after we spent oodles getting all manner of work done on the Subaru, this happened…a run-in with a tree that fell in front of said car….

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Which leads to this tearjerker story (The Jelly Jar), brought about by the kid that just recovered from a busted arm and then sprained his other wrist a mere week later. While being so touched by his selflessness, we realized that “hey, we may be doing this parent thing right once in awhile.” I also was brought to my knees and reminded about how much I need to trust in God for everything.

Ready to hear about some good stuff again? Me too…

I kissed a frog. Sorta. This was taken at an amazing Mother’s Day brunch event. All of the tables were a princess theme and ours was The Princess and the Frog. Yes, that is a real frog inside the bowl!  Couldn’t resist puckering up for a picture. And yes, that is my daughter chuckling her head off in the background.

We took a fun day trip to Baltimore with my family. Post-riots.

Had another great state park experience for vacation. This was divine timing as it happened right before Jeff returned to work and before back to school craziness happened. It was a most refreshing and renewing time away for the 7 of us.

We experienced some more great hiking together.

Rocked our Candy Land themed event at school.

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And last but not least, all of my kids mentioned what a great experience it was to put on a Christmas play for church!

Blessings to you as you reflect on your 2015 and look forward to 2016!

God is good. All the time.

The Christmas Story: Wise Men

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As Christmas is quickly approaching, I am writing a very short series featuring different people in the Christmas story. For the first post I focused on Joseph, and for the second round I wrote about the shepherds. Today I would like to look at the Wise Men and their role in this wonderful account.

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In studying Matthew 2, there is much speculation surrounding the Wise Men. I have read a whole slew of different opinions, studies, and commentary regarding these men. Were there only three Magi? Probably not, we just assign the number three due to the fact that they brought three gifts. Did they visit Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at the stable like you see in typical nativity scenes? Again, probably not. It likely happened when Jesus was a bit older, not an infant. I will tell you that I am NOT an expert, so I won’t go too much into all of those details.

However, this is what I do want to share about the Wise Men, or the Magi:

In sharp contrast to the shepherds, these were probably wealthy, well educated men. In my last post I mentioned about the shepherds and how they would have been on a very low rung of the social ladder. These guys? Totally different story. They would have been well versed in the prophecies as well as astrology and many other studies. Also, the gifts they brought to Jesus would have been very costly items, so they must have been wealthy.

Another thing I’d like to note is that they truly sought out Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. This may sound obvious, but it has lessons for us. It’s not like they saw something unusual in the sky and just happened to hop on over to the next town to check out why. They would have studied past scriptures and prophecies and recognized the signs. These men must have been attuned to God’s word and leading. Upon reaching their destination, they were “overjoyed.” They didn’t find a fancy king on a throne, but a little boy with humble parents. In Matthew 2:10-11, it says that when they saw him they “bowed down and worshiped him.” Also, they presented their three gifts, very costly items that were truly meant for a king. These guys recognized Jesus as king of the Jews and honored him for who he was.

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The last mention of the wise men in Matthew tells us what happened after they worshiped Jesus. Herod had known they were seeking out the Messiah and had wanted them to come back and report to him about this future king. However, after they visited Jesus, they were divinely warned not to return to Herod. Instead, they returned to their homeland by a different route. This part of the story tells me that they were not only receptive to God’s leading, but obeyed Him rather than man.

So, what is my take-away from learning about the Magi? They studied God’s word, followed its leading, recognized Jesus for who he was, were quick to worship Him and honored Him with their all, and obeyed God rather than man. All things that I would like to aspire to today as well.

 

 

The Christmas Story: Shepherds

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Today I am writing a second installment in a short series based on the Biblical account of our Savior’s birth. The last one was all about Joseph, but today I will focus in on the shepherds.

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I will readily admit that I didn’t think much about the shepherds’ role in this story until recent years. My husband is actually the one who was most impacted by their role, and from that I sat up and took more interest in their part of this wonderful story.

Here are some things I find interesting about the shepherds:

They were on an extremely low rung of the social ladder in that time, yet God chose them specifically to receive the news of Jesus’ birth before anyone else. Though they were initially terrified by the angelic appearance, their fear turned to joy as they took in the news about Messiah’s birth. That joy combined with great excitement as they visited Mary, Joseph, and the baby. Immediately they spread the word about this baby, and people were amazed at what they said.

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It fascinates me that these shepherds, who were normally not held in high esteem, were able to amaze whomever they shared the news with. This tells me that the townspeople must have seen the genuine joy on their faces and knew that they were speaking the truth. Their excitement must have been palpable! I would have loved to see this play out for real. These men, whether they were old or young or somewhere in between, recognized God in this miracle and quickly glorified and praised Him.

Today I am thankful for the shepherds, ordinary men whom God used in a most extraordinary way. They sought out Jesus, wholeheartedly believed in the miracle of His birth, and glorified and praised God. Most importantly, they couldn’t wait to share the good news with everyone they met!

The Christmas Story: Joseph

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Today I am beginning a short series based on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. I love the Christmas season and some part of the Christmas story hits me afresh each year. I am always struck by the variety of people God used to participate in the birth of His son here on earth. One of those people usually impact me in a new way, or perhaps I am able to see the story more from their perspective.

As my children were part of a wonderful Christmas pageant last week, I was inspired to do a small series highlighting what I’ve learned from some of these folks–all ordinary people that God used in an extraordinary way.

Today I will focus on Joseph, the man who became an earthly father to Jesus and husband of Mary. In the pageant I just mentioned, my oldest son Daniel played the part of Joseph. I’m not sure why, but watching my young man portray Joseph really impacted me.

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Perhaps it’s because I’ve always seen Joseph as such a man of integrity, which is what I would love all my young men to grow up to be.

Joseph really was an example of integrity. There he was, a young carpenter, engaged to a young lady who suddenly lets him know that she is pregnant. He could have easily been enraged, putting her out of his life and disgracing her in a public way. This would have also gotten Mary stoned, the punishment back in those times. However, even before the angel appeared to him in a dream, he “had in mind to divorce her quietly” because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” Now THAT is a good man, back in those days I’m sure and definitely in today’s world too.

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Joseph was also a man of quick obedience.

An angel did appear to him and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel reassured him that the child was conceived in her from the Holy Spirit and that he was to name him Jesus. So, did Joseph mull this over and weigh out the pros and cons for weeks on end? Nope. It says that “When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” No hesitation or ignoring the dream or explaining it away. Joseph also was quick to obey the Lord when, after the visit from the Magi, an angel appears to him yet again and tells him to escape to Egypt with his family. No hesitation there either as he packed up his family during the night and fled King Herod’s wrath.

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Also, Joseph had to know that when her pregnancy became noticeable and people found out, he also would be humiliated for taking her as his wife under the circumstances. But the threat of public scorn didn’t stop him.

I also want to note that when we first meet Joseph in Matthew 1:19, he is noted as “a righteous man.” Note–it doesn’t say “self-righteous,” it says “righteous.” There’s a big distinction there. What a fine example he is to us all.

So, to wrap up today’s installation, here is my take-away from studying Joseph: I would like to strive to be a person who is righteous (not self-righteous!), obedient to God, not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, and a person of integrity. I am thankful for Joseph and how God used him in the life of Jesus.

(Note: All of my references today were taken from Matthew 1 & 2, NIV)

 

 

What I’m Into: November 2015

Well, I happened to blink and it’s the end of November already.

Not sure how that happened, but hey, here we are.

Here is a monthly menagerie of things I’m into as of late:

*Fair Trade shopping. I did a bit of shopping for people at a Ten Thousand Villages store that isn’t too far from us. Above is a pan flute that I bought for one of my little guys, as well as a thumb piano for his twin.

Oh yeah, I may have purchased a cute little something for myself too…including these darling bicycle earrings! They had some fabulous jewelry there, including some great clearance deals.

*Baking. It takes a couple of chillier days and I get into baking mode. Some breads, cookies, and the like. I love all the fun holiday baking recipes I see popping up this time of year!

Speaking of which, my kids really want me to try making these Snow Globe  cupcakes. Are they not the cutest thing ever? I think yes.

*Yarn. Yup, it was on my list last month and yet it remains.

Here’s a button-over cowl that I made up a couple weeks ago. I like making these with big round wood buttons, but I also discovered these wooden toggle buttons that I like. I’ve also been working on a couple of newsboy style hats and a baby gift for my best friend, who is due in just a couple of weeks.

*The Christmas story. Advent has begun and this year I’m super excited about all of my kiddos being in a Christmas pageant next week.

I have two little shepherds, one angel/townsperson, a wise man, and Joseph (played by Daniel, not Joseph. Confusing, I know, when you have all these boy Bible names rolling around in one family…)

Well, that’s all folks. Add in upcoming Christmas concerts, other kid activities, and a bunch of school happenings this week, and there’s my life this time of year. Thanks for tuning in!

Recent Frugal Accomplishments

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Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving everyone!

Here are a few little things I’ve done lately that I would consider to be Frugal Accomplishments:

*Didn’t have to fuel up my van for nearly two weeks. Hard to believe since I feel like I’ve had a LOT of kid running to do lately. However, all of it is local stuff, so I guess that’s why the tank stretched out longer.

*Had the lowest electric bill we’ve opened in a LONG time, I think mostly due to the fact that our heat hasn’t had to run. We’ve been blessed with a warm fall!

*On that note, we haven’t had to order heating fuel yet this fall.

*I’ve been able to hang out laundry a decent amount.

*My husband has been able to score some free meat items from work, mostly samples of recipes he’s tried or ends of stuff that wouldn’t be able to be sold. He also brought home a bag of chopped pecans that someone was headed to the trash can with! (It was the last bit of what was a huge bag.)

*I haven’t thrift shopped much at all, but the one time I was in lately I found this little treasure from the 70’s.

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Why did this 75 cent find excite me? Well, my parents just celebrated a 40 year anniversary. This upholstery fabric topped a hope chest my Dad bought my Mom way back when. It had gotten worn over many years of use and they had it recovered with something different maybe 10 years ago. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was the same fabric pattern and it was in brand new condition–also, it is the exact size needed to cover their chest!

*I ordered several kids’ Christmas gifts via Amazon while I had a free month’s trial of their Prime membership. I did not continue the membership, but enjoyed free shipping while it lasted:)

*My Dad continues to give us free cheese crumbles from his work. Also, we sometimes inherit other goodies too. It’s a bonus to have people working in the food industry I guess.

*Had a neighbor with a young adult son bring over a couple bags of clothing for my young man. It had a lot of great stuff in it for which we are thankful for.  Love not having to buy many clothes for my boys!