Saturday, January 30, 2010


Sometimes I am just blown away. Fundraising is such a hard thing for me, but the reality is, it will make this mission trip to Kazakhstan happen! And going on this mision trip to Kazakhstan is an incredible opporunity to give back and to bring joy to orphans (orphans who are on my heart every single day). So, I've been thinking of ways to fundraise.

My sweet friend (and co-author of The Cooks Next Door), Heather, immediately told me that she wanted all of the February proceeds from her Etsy shop to benefit my trip. I am humbled and amazed. She has adorable aprons, gorgeous tea cozys, and beautiful felted flowers. Please check out her shop!

Another friend of mine graciously offered to sell my cookies at a local school. She had the idea, arranged it and her daughters will sell them. Again, I am humbled.

In considering fundraising ideas, I decided that I really should put my love of baking to good use and so I'm planning another cookie fundraiser. For the month of February, I'm hoping to sell homemade gourmet cookies by the dozen (Triple Chocolate, Mint Double Chocolate, Molasses, Toffee Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, or Iced Sugar). The cookies will be for a donation of $12/dozen large cookies or $20/2 dozen (plus $5-8 if shipped or free if you live locally and I can deliver them or you can pick them up!). I will only ship on Mondays or Tuesdays to ensure freshness. They will come individually wrapped and beautifully boxed. All of the proceeds will go towards the mission trip but will not be tax deductible. Let me know if you are interested! You can leave a comment or e-mail me (alainamj AT yahoo DOT com). (*NOTE: The photo is of cookies I made for my sister's wedding - not the actual cookies you will receive - they will be freshly baked! :))

I'm around halfway to my $2,850 goal. Many, many thanks to the friends, family, and even a stranger who have contributed. This trip means so much to me and to our family. I had the opportunity this week to talk to the boys' preschool class about Kazakhstan for their cultural studies and my middle son told me multiple times, "Mom, I want you to tell them about your trip." It was so sweet and let me know how important it is to him.

I am humbled - plain and simple. And I am excited!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Shhh - Don't Tell

I don't like Twitter. In fact, I can't stand it. We decided to use it as a way to network for The Cooks Next Door and so we post tweets once or twice a day. But seriously, I don't have time to let everyone know my every move and thought nor do I want them to know. It has been okay for networking but not great - probably because we aren't on it enough. :) And really, I'm okay with that.

I'm sure there are many things to be said for it (and I know lots of people that love it!); I just don't like it. Maybe I don't fully understand it - definitely possible. Anyway, I said I would never join and personally, I don't think I ever will BUT we will stay a part of Twitter for The Cooks (so feel free to follow if you like :)).

Wow, feels good to get that off my chest. :) Any thoughts on the pros and cons of "tweeting"?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My favorite - mixed greens, dried cranberries, pecans, apples, feta cheese, and homemade balsamic honey dressing. Only thing that would have made it better - pear. This would also have been great with some grilled chicken on top!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Which One?

There is nothing like having a child that says, "mmmm." Every single time you bring food to the table. It is so sweet and it translates into him trying and enjoying almost eveything. Guess which child?

He also says, "Yay!" and claps with a huge smile when he sees you or when you propose an idea he likes. Seriously, he is one of the happiest kids I have ever met and loves to laugh and be tickled. He is a ham and tries to make us all laugh - quite successfully, I might add.

He has made friends with the dog and we have caught him red-handed feeding her from his plate (a big no-no) - he looks at us with complete innocence like, "oops, I didn't mean to..." Riiiggghhht. We aren't buying it. :)

So which of my sweeties am I talking about today?


He's 17 months old, very independent, a lover of all food, and so incredibly sweet and loving. He nods and shakes his head like a pro and though he doesn't say very many words, he gets his point across 9 times out of 10. He does a little sign language and smiles like it's going out of style!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bad Sharing

We've been fighting the stomach flu since last Wednesday (which you might already know if we're fb friends :)). We thought we were in the clear and then Andrew came down with it. Two of us have yet to have it (and I'll admit I'm feeling pretty awful today) and it now more than ever just feels like a matter of time. It's hard to know what to keep doing and what to cancel - clearly it's a virulent flu (my dad and brother got it from exposure to us one evening).

There is something so wrong with the fact that I averaged the stomach flu every 5-10 years before kids and now it's 1-2x per year. My friends, that is a statistic that I never wanted to see change.

I'm tired and haven't had a good night of sleep in several days. The boys have been a bit (okay, a lot) out of sorts and we are ready to be well! We are fairly confident the stomach flu was contracted at school. So, hello, Monday, let's make it the best day that we can. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sharing Again

Well, after many months of separating the boys into different rooms (remember this post?),
they are back together. AND it's working. We are so thrilled! The older boys have been very obedient - we don't mind a little talking but the getting out of bed and stealing blankets etc. was a problem. They really, really want to share a room again and so they are working hard to make that happen. Bedtime, overall, has been pleasant. Even Titus is sleeping in the room and doing very well. If he does wake up (which has also been a little better), he doesn't seem to disturb them.

I must say, it was totally worth giving up a guest room, giving up our ideal (kids sharing - we are in a 3-bedroom house), and separating the boys for awhile to achieve peaceful and positive bed time routines. And we are so happy that it didn't have to be a forever thing.

So, what are we doing with the "extra" bedroom? We decided that we will keep a twin bed in there for the occasional company (or illness or poor behavior) but we will not turn it back into a dedicated guest room. You see, in our quest to organize and make our home work, we have been considering all kinds of options. The winner? The bedroom will become a playroom - the train table and ALL the boys toys will go in there. It will be an entirely safe room and the closet will be locked (it's going to be the storage area for all of our not-currently-needed baby stuff). We will store the books on the bookcase outside the playroom. And we will put a loveseat in the playroom for story reading etc.

We are so excited about the prospect. We have a loft that has been the play/entertaining room but it is a tough area to keep clean with all of the boys' stuff. We hope and think this will be a good solution and will make entertaining easier! Perhaps stacking the bunkbeds will be next?? :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Big Thank You!

Thank you to all of you who commented on our Haiti Relief post! And thank you also to those of you that facebooked it, blogged it, or tweeted it! We will be sending off our donation this week and we know Compassion will use it well. From their reports, it has been so difficult as all of them deal with much loss and continue working on relief efforts.

If you would like to follow along more with Compassion, they have a group on facebook that they update regularly or you can check out their blog.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is It Me?

Do you ever just feel boring? I'm not big on talking on the phone or making small talk - I don't think I'm good at it and I often don't know what to say. I come by it honestly - several of my family members are the same. It is sometimes frustrating because it makes keeping up with people much harder. I write here and facebook as well and hope that people can stay up with our lives and I do try and make an effort to e-mail or occaionally call. It isn't that I don't like people, it isn't that I don't enjoy visiting with's not that at all.

It's ironic that I became a dental hygienist since I have to make small talk all.the.time. :) And in some ways, it's easier for me to have a conversation with a stranger. I don't know, it's weird. I guess part of it is being a fairly private person - I maybe didn't use to be that way so much but I have definitely become more private as the years have passed.

Perhaps the carefree days of youth have been replaced by the reality that real life is difficult. I find myself busy with the mundane and always trying to keep up (not with the Jones' just with real life responsibilities :)). There are so many joys and so many heartaches - so many battles and so many victories.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making Lists

Since a few people asked, here is how I organized my grocery list. I can look at it and check to see what I need and then mark on the list for the next time I go shopping. This is also a master list that I can easily change. I also am carrying a version of this list that helps me know what vegetables and fruits are best to purchase organic. I'm still working on how best to budget etc. but I like the organization that having master lists encourages. :)

I've made a slight return to couponing - just clipping the ones that I know I'm most likely to use. I do buy some things in bulk at Costco (as I have previously mentioned, I love the quality of their products!). We are currently eating quite a bit from the pantry and I'm still figuring out how best to organize that and keep track of what we have. I'm also looking into a local food co-op (thanks, Kelly!) and hoping to order a few things through them.

- Onions
- Garlic
- Potatoes
- Carrots
- Peppers
- Cucumbers
- Broccoli
- Salad Greens
- Seasonal Fruits & Veg

- Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Mayonnaise
- Yellow/Dijon Mustard
- Ketchup
- Salsa

- Flour (WW & White)
- Yeast
- Sugars
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Cornstarch
- Honey
- Maple Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
- Cornmeal
- Nuts
- Dried Fruit
- Oatmeal
- Grits
- Cream of Wheat

- Rice
- Pasta
- Couscous
- Bread
- Crackers
- Tortillas

- Salt
- Pepper
- Dried Herbs & Spices

- Canned & Dried Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Refried Beans
- Chicken/Veg/Beef Broth

- Milk
- Eggs
- Cheese
- Plain Yogurt
- Butter

- Coffee
- Teas

- Peas
- Spinach
- Corn
- Green Beans
- Lima Beans

- Chicken
- Beef
- Fish

- Cereal
- Jelly
- Fresh Herbs
- Lemons
- Limes
- Bacon
- Sausage
- Ham
- Juice
- Baking Chips
- Flavored Yogurt
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Heavy Cream/1/2 & 1/2
- BBQ Sauce
- Tortilla Chips
- Pretzels
- Cereal Bars
- Dried Fruit Bars
- Granola Bars
- Ice Cream
- Diet Coke

- Toilet Paper
- Kleenex
- Paper Towel
- Napkins
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Laundry Detergent
- Wax Paper
- Aluminum Foil
- Plastic Wrap
- Lunch/Storage Bags
- Trash Bags
- Light Bulbs
- Batteries
- Dog Food
- Cleaning Supplies
- Shampoo/Conditioner
- Toothbrush/Paste
- Deodorant
- Contact Solution
- Soap
- First Aid

Please take this for what it's worth. Everyone's list will look different - I'm not saying this is *the* right way, simply that this is what I'm doing. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Family & Misc. - Updated

*I guess I missed my blog birthday on Sunday! So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, blog - you were started on a whim and here we are 4 years later! May there be many more! :)*
Today is preschool day but my oldest woke up not feeling quite right (swollen glands and tummy ache), so he is home. We are reading books, cuddling while watching Sesame Street and enjoying some low-key time together. T is napping and it's been kind of nice just enjoying C all by himself. He felt rather self-important and rather excited at the prospect of staying home with Mommy. :) And P felt rather important and rather excited about being at school by himself. :)

We ventured out to the Children's Musuem yesterday - I will NEVER go on a free day again. We have a membership but Andrew was able to go with us for a little while in the afternoon (since it was a holiday) thus deciding to go as a family on the free day. It was awful. I think the kids had an okay time - they were so happy Daddy could come but they were barely able to do anything they enjoy. It was so crowded which I can handle to an extent but it seemed that many of the people there were quite rude - I had to bite my tongue from yelling at a lady which isn't usually like me. Anyway, not worth it. We will find something else to do as a family next time...

What a blessing family is - I marvel at the amazing family I have been given. What a privilege to be Andrew's wife and my sons' mom.

I'm about 25% of the way to my $2,850 goal for Kazakhstan. Thanks to those of you who have contributed! I really keep having to pinch myself at how God has prepared the way for me to go and I'm so excited to continue seeing how He will provide the needed funds!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Opportunity of a Lifetime

I've delayed this news with the events in Haiti last week but I want to share with you a very exciting and big opportunity...

I'm so thrilled to have the chance to return to Kazakhstan this spring. After much prayer, counsel and consideration, Andrew and I have decided that I will travel to Kazakhstan with Two Hearts for Hope mission team April 30-May 9.

When we returned home from Uralsk, Kazakhstan in October 2006, we left a part of our hearts in Kaz and we were profoundly impacted. Our lives have never been the same and our view of the world was forever changed. We are indebted to that country for the gift of our boys and our hearts ache for the children that are still there waiting. This trip will give our family an opportunity to give back to the country and in a small way to bring joy to the children still in orphanages.

As a part of the Two Hearts team, I will be helping to build a playground, loving on kids, visiting the special needs orphanage and blind children's home and doing various other work. It will be hard, it will be emotional, and it will be an incredible experience. I am so blessed to have this opportunity! Things have fallen into place for childcare - I will miss the boys (and Andrew!) like crazy but they will be well-cared for which is a huge relief.

I ask most of all for your prayers as the team prepares to go and as we serve. Pray that our hearts will be prepared and changed. Pray that we will be successful in our work. And also pray that God will bless and protect all of us and our families as we are away from each other.

The cost of the mission trip is $2,850. I will be working to raise the money over the next couple of months and I'm so excited to see how God will provide! If you are interested in contributing to this trip (any amount helps!), you can visit my donation page at Two Hearts or you can use the good old-fashioned postal system.

So that's my news! I'm beyond excited and looking forward to April! I can hardly believe that I will have this chance to return to Kaz and to give back in this amazing way. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

MPM: 1/18-24

We've been teaching our children about Haiti the past week and so we decided that we would eat two meals of beans and rice - a common Haitian meal. So here's the plan for our week:

MONDAY: Tomato Pasta Soup, Bread, Salad (carried over from last week)

TUESDAY: Black Beans & Rice, Fruit

WEDNESDAY: Salad w/Chicken and the Works, Bread

THURSDAY: Double Date Night!

FRIDAY: Red Beans & Rice, Salad

SATURDAY: Apple Swiss Grilled Cheese, Baked Veggie Chips (potato, beet, and carrot), Fruit

SUNDAY: Chili, Cornbread, Salad

Oatmeal x2
Cream of Wheat
Cereal x3
Eggs & Toast

Egg Salad
Cheese Sandwiches
PB & J x2
Baked Potatoes
Yogurt & Crackers

Dried Fruit

This is a bit of a boring week food -wise. I may change things up a bit but for now, this is the plan.

On a side note, our family is donating $1 to Compassion International for Haiti Relief for every person that comments on this post (up to 200)!

Finally, feel free to check out the cooking blog I co-author - The Cooks Next Door!
Thanks to orgjunkie for hosting!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Our Kids to Understand

One of our deepest desires for our family is that we would have a passion for the world. We want our children to understand the needs of others and to always be thinking beyond themselves and beyond our mostly comfortable borders.

This week gave us the opportunity to teach the boys about the country of Haiti and it's needs. We looked up together a map of Haiti and some "before" pictures. I printed off coloring pages of the Haitian flag, traditional clothing etc. so they could make a book. We listened to music sung in Creole and English. We practiced what the capital is, what languages they speak, and how many people live there.

And then we talked candidly about families being separated, people hurting and dying, buildings and homes being destroyed, and the lack of adequate food and water. I showed them a few pictures of the devastation and asked them how they felt about it. And we spent time discussing and praying for the needs of the Haitian people.

We made a few traditional Haitian dishes for our meal to again remind us of the suffering and sadness of that country. It was a good excercise for all of us. I learned a lot and I think the boys did, too. My greatest prayer is that they will be challenged to continue to pray for the people and that their eyes will be opened and their hearts filled with compassion for others.

We are still donating for comments! Check it out and leave us a comment!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Relief - We Will Donate $1 for Every Comment

My husband and I have been considering how we can help those in Haiti. We would like to be able to go and help with the relief effort but we cannot at this time - perhaps we will have that opportunity later. And so we are praying as a family, teaching our young children about Haiti, about hurting people, and about the power of prayer, and we are giving. We've been thinking of different organizations and ways to give and as I mentioned yesterday, we are Compassion supporters.

So, we have decided that in addition to what we already planned to give, that we will donate $1 (up to $200) for every person that comments on this post between now and Tuesday, January 19
to Compasion International. We do this, to raise awareness and to encourage and challenge others. Let's rally around the people of Haiti and give in whatever ways we can! Please help spread the word through blogging, facebook etc.! All you have to do is leave a comment - it doesn't take much time!

Here are some other links for Haiti Relief:
Money Saving Mom (there are many links here for matching donations, ideas of ways to give etc.)
World Vision
Mission of Hope Haiti
Haiti Children

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I have not stopped thinking about Haiti - I even dreamed I went to help with the relief effort. We are receiving e-mails about ways to help, watching the devastation and pleas for aid on the news, and seeing facebook statuses, tweets, and blog posts about it. It's incredible to see the hearts of people and their generosity - whether financial, time, etc.

You can donate to Haiti through Compassion International. They are an incredible organization that serves the children of Haiti and their families in tangible as well as spiritual ways. There are many other organizations and ways to give to Haiti but I wanted to mention Compassion and wholeheartedly recommend the organization and the work they do.


As I've read the reports and seen some of the footage of Haiti, I'm overwhelmed. I cannot imagine the devastation, fear, and sadness. We received word that some of the orphanages and workers there were spared and the buildings had little damage and we have a friend who is headed there to help evacuate medical patients. We also know of a local man that is currently missing and we are thinking of and praying for him and his family. And we heard from Compassion International that they expect many deaths and damage to the church-based buildings that provide services and they anticipate countless needs. Our minds and hearts are heavy.

As a family, we are praying for all of the people in Haiti - those suffering tremendous loss, those injured and ill, and the relief workers and organizations serving in Haiti. And we are seeking what God would have us to do. So much seems inconsequential and we take so much for granted. Words fail.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Good Night

It's amazing how a good night of sleep can make you feel - they have been few and far between since kids and especially in the last 1 1/2 years. And so it feels nothing short of a miracle that all three boys slept all the way through the night last night - 9p. - 7:30a.! To top it off, they all slept in the same room. Amazing! Let's hope that trend continues although I'm not holding my breath. :)

On a completely different note, I wish I had gotten a picture of this but we have training chopsticks and watching one of my boys proudly master them last night was absolutely adorable. Interestingly, all of my kids love Chinese food!

Also, thank you for the lotion recommendations - I will definitely be trying out some of them! And one of my kiddos has a little eczema (we know it's genetic) so I will be using those recommendations, too.

I'm ready to tackle this day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just a Little, Pretty Please

Oh motivation, motivation, wherefore art thou, motivation? Grocery shopping wore me out as it usually does. :) Must.go.unload.groceries. I'm cooking dinner for 10 tonight and the house is a bit of a disaster to clean and get ready! Once I get going (after I settle Titus again for his nap), I'll be fine...really! And tonight, I will crash. :)

Stay tuned for some exciting news this week (and no, our family is not growing :)). Oh, one question - someone please tell me a good lotion for dry skin. I usually use Lubriderm but it isn't working very well this year. All righty, I'm off.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Date Night

Andrew and I had an actual date night on Saturday night - it was wonderful! We went to dinner and a movie. Dinner was good and the movie was great!

I know we are behind the 8 ball on this movie but we saw the Blind Side (based on a true story). It's still in the theaters and we have been trying to go and see it since it came out. We laughed and cried through it and our hearts were touched. This story holds a very special place in our lives - it is a book that had a huge impact on Andrew in the summer of 2008. My sister bought it on a whim for him and he read it mere weeks before we received the call about Titus. It's a story that God used to bring Titus into our family.

Our tears flowed as we were once again confronted with the sad and harsh reality of some children's lives - this teenager had never had a bed and never been read to. The love and acceptance of this family was incredible. We wholeheartedly recommend it and urge you to see it. In many way, it once again challenged us with how God wants us to be involved. It is definitely a movie we will own.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MPM: 1/11-1/17

I haven't joined into Menu Plan Monday for quite some time but I must get back to better and more efficient planning. So hopefully this will help!

MONDAY: Sweet & Tangy Pot Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Peas & Pearl Onions, Lemon Pound Cake w/Blueberry Sauce

TUESDAY*: Egg Rolls, Steamed Dumplings, Shrimp Lo-Mein, Fried Rice, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Fortune Cookies & Chinese Almond Cookies

WEDNESDAY: Black Bean Enchiladas, Applesauce, Salad

THURSDAY: Pasta Carbonara, Salad, Citrus Fruit Salad, Crème Brulee

FRIDAY: Out with the girls, Breakfast for Supper or leftovers – Andrew cooks

SATURDAY: Pasta Soup, Salad, Bread

SUNDAY: Chicken Curry over Sweet Potatoes or Rice, Salad

Oatmeal w/fruit x2
Cereal x3
Eggs & Toast
Cream of Wheat & Fruit

PB & J x2 for school
Egg Salad
Grilled Cheese
Refried Bean & Cheese Burritos
Sides: Pretzels, Fruit, Carrots, Yogurt

Snacks: Nuts, Raisins, Cereal Bars, Apples, Veggies

We are having company on Tuesday. We are also having dessert more this week than we ever do but I'm testing some recipes for The Cooks Next Door. Several of the recipes will appear over on that site very soon! Thanks to orgjunkie for hosting - check out her site for many more menu plans!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Food Budgeting

We decided that it was time to end our delivery of organic produce. I cancelled our account yesterday with a bit of sadness. But in order to meet our goals for this year, we have to cut expenses. It's just the reality if we want to make progress towards our long term goals of being debt-free, moving to a new house, and being prepared if God calls us to adopt again or to support and give to a family who is adopting.

As we are working on budget goals, I am challenged in the food area. We are committed to healthy eating and using fresh foods and we try to buy mostly organic (and mostly local) meats, eggs, and milk. The challenge is knowing exactly how much money to allocate, what to make a priority etc. And so I'm thinking I will make a master list of the foods that are a "necessity" and the foods that are "extra." I'm going to be seeing where the best deals are as well as carrying a list of what produce is best if purchased organically.

Compromising on quality of food is just not an option (we have decided that as a family) but being more economical, buying less and eating more vegetarian are definitely some of the goals. We need to use everything we buy so we have less waste and I need to get back to better/more effective menu planning (you may see a return to Menu Plan Monday around here). I plan/hope to shop once a week which will require me to be very organized. I think it will take several months to really figure out what works.

In sharing this, I realize that there is no right way and everyone's food budget, eating goals, and priorities are different and that is okay! This is just where our family is right now. I love to cook, I love to menu plan, and I love using local, fresh ingredients. I just need to be committed to doing this in ways that work for our family and budget.

This year will be a year of change - keeping better track of spending, using a modified "envelope system", and working towards honoring God more with our spending, our saving, our giving, and our goals.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Let It Snow!

For once (or so it seems), the weather people got it right! It IS snowing and accumulating. The boys' school is closed although the city schools are not - I wonder if they will have early release? It has been so absolutely cold here without very much snow - the boys would much prefer some snow. They have been wanting, "God to make it snow alot, alot."

I think Andrew may work from home - he brought home everything he would need "just in case." The snow is supposed to be continuing until tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, we live in an extremely treacherous neighborhood - treacherous because they don't bring plows through very early at all and we often can't get out and can barely get in. Oh well. I don't mind being snowed in.

This weather makes me want to bake and cook like crazy! So perhaps we will have some yummy food today - sounds good to me. And maybe I will finally get the tree down. I know the boys will play out in the snow and then come in for hot chocolate. Ah, sounds like the makings of a wonderful day.

(I'm consciously ignoring the fact that the boys have been at each other just about every minute of this morning so far - nothing a little snow won't fix - right?!) :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I Wonder...

...if one day were spent walking in the shoes of an orphan or foster child, if more children would find forever homes? Their daily reality and personal journey should challenge to action. My heart grieves for them. It's not just someone else's problem.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Some days just start rough. Starting at about midnight we had children up several times last night which made our sleep restless at best. :) The snack I thought I had for school was not there necessitating far more thought and energy to come up with something else (and yes, I realize that if I had checked last night that all would have been avoided :)). The boys dawdled and complained about the cold (it's absolutely frigid here). But we finally made it to school with enough snack, packed lunches, and warm clothes. Titus and I are back home and he is down for a nap - I may soon follow. :)

I was delighted that the teacher pulled me aside this morning and asked if she could do Kazakhstan for one of their cultural study weeks this month. I know the boys will be so excited since they are so interested in Kaz and we talk about it quite a bit! So I need to pull some things together for her so she can plan.

Thus begins the more normal routine of 2010. My to-do list is long, my husband working many hours this week, and my boys are already asking when it will be warm. :)

Oh and feel free to head on over to The Cooks Next Door and enter our giveaway!

Monday, January 04, 2010

And So It Begins

I'm committed to getting things more organized and de-junked. I do not have illusions of it being an easy process nor that it will be a one time activity. I know it will take a lot of work to maintain and I know that I'm going to spend A LOT of time working through each room, closet, drawer etc. We've been in our house for 6 years and added a dog and three children during those years - the accumulation is evidence of that.

It will be worth it. It will be ongoing. It's easy for me to get discouraged and give up - especially since it is way more important to me than anyone else in my house. :) However, as with every fresh year, I want this goal to be met. It's on my list every year and some progress is made every year but it often feels that we go backward more than forward. Sigh.

So today, I'm starting on the master bedroom which, sadly, tends to be the catch-all. I can't stand it - it should be a place of peace and retreat and it has been in the past. I fully intend to restore it to it's former peacefulness. It seems a good place to start because it also does much to build and encourage our marriage when we have a quiet place of retreat.

I'm overwhelmed yet excited. I'm discouraged yet hopeful. I'm weary yet determined.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Hopes & Dreams

It's that time of the year again - the very beginning of a brand-new year. I always like to take a little time to consider what my hopes and dreams are for the coming year. Yes, a kind of resolutions or perhaps goals.

Here are some of mine (ours):
- Support missions and advocate for orphans everywhere.
- Continue on the quest of home organization - I think this is the same for every year. :)
- Make decisions regarding the boys' education for next year.
- Work hard towards becoming completely debt free (well, with the exception of mortgage).
- Compile the C family recipes into a cookbook.
- See The Cooks Next Door grow and begin to break even.
- Perhaps one of the biggest goals is to spend lots of time with my husband and beautiful sons - playing, laughing, growing, feeding, loving, educating, and investing in their lives.
- And finally, to grow in my walk with the Lord, to be the best wife and mom I can be, and to be compassionate and thankful.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I look forward to spending time with friends - old and new. 2009 brought some wonderful relationships with some amazing, like-minded women and I am incredibly thankful!

What are some of your goals?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here's to the start of a brand-new year, and another year of blogging (this year on my new laptop - thanks to my sweet and generous husband!)! Cheers!

We had my siblings (the marrieds) over to ring in 2010 and had such a great time! And today is our family "Christmas at New Year's" celebration. I just love being in a big family - never a dull moment, lots of chaos, always a friend, and more food, teasing, affection, and love than any one person deserves. It's wonderful and fun!

Anyway, wishing you and yours a very

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2010!