Saturday, January 30, 2010
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
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
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- Salad Greens
- Seasonal Fruits & Veg
- Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Yellow/Dijon Mustard
- Flour (WW & White)
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Maple Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
- Dried Fruit
- Cream of Wheat
- Dried Herbs & Spices
- Canned & Dried Beans
- Canned Tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Refried Beans
- Chicken/Veg/Beef Broth
- Plain Yogurt
- Green Beans
- Lima Beans
- Fresh Herbs
- Baking Chips
- Flavored Yogurt
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Heavy Cream/1/2 & 1/2
- BBQ Sauce
- Tortilla Chips
- Cereal Bars
- Dried Fruit Bars
- Granola Bars
- Ice Cream
- Diet Coke
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towel
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Laundry Detergent
- Wax Paper
- Aluminum Foil
- Plastic Wrap
- Lunch/Storage Bags
- Trash Bags
- Light Bulbs
- Dog Food
- Cleaning Supplies
- Contact Solution
- 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
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
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
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
Cream of Wheat
Eggs & Toast
PB & J x2
Yogurt & Crackers
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!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
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
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.)
Mission of Hope Haiti
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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 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
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
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
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
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
Eggs & Toast
Cream of Wheat & Fruit
PB & J x2 for school
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
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
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
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
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
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
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
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!