Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cute

Drew to Mommy while cleaning up his room. "Mommy, my room smells."
Mom to Drew, "Why does your room smell?"
Drew: "I don't know but its coming from my body."
Mom to Drew, "Well, do you need to go to the bathroom?"
Drew, "No, I think I just need some of that good room smeller that you spray when Gabe's room smells like diapers!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Credit Card Test


In June of 09 John and I decided to test out a credit card program (Chase Freedom) to see if the rewards were beneficial to our family. We had been credit card free for over a year and thought that we'd make the leap to running most of our expenses through our credit card in the hopes of making a little cash back. We picked the Chase Freedom card, thanks to my thrifty friend Bethany and her husband who told us about the Cash Reward program. John and I made a pact that if any month we didn't pay it off then we would close the account. So far we're sticking to our allotted budget and haven't had any temptations not to pay it off - in fact I try and pay the balance off every Friday just to keep things simple.

The rewards program works very simply, for every charge there is an allotted percentage (1%-3%) which you receive as "credit," the top three spending categories receive the 3% rebate and it drops from there. You can redeem the credits at any time for gift cards, cash, or a credit on your account. The great bonus is that once you reach 200.00 in rewards, Chase will give you an additional 50.00. So after 5 months of testing out this program, John and I are excited to receive our first 250.00 check in the mail. That is a great deal - we paid no interest to the company and receive approximately 500.00 a year (or approx 4% cash back) by using the card instead of our checking account to roll purchases through. Not bad! We roll almost all our expenses through the card - including utilities, groceries, gasoline and fast food. Our top three categories tend to be: Utilities, Groceries, & Gasoline, the rest of the categiries receive 1% cash back. I set the account up to automatically download to my financial program so I can see on any given day what the balance and transactions are. Its a great program, assuming you never carry a monthly balance. There are no annual fees their customer service seems to be very professional and helpful!

Here is an additional review which we found helpful.

Delights from an almost 5 year old

Mommy to Drew, " Drew we can't go camping this weekend because its not safe for mommy and the baby. I wouldn't be able to lift anything so we're going to camp in our backyard instead."

Drew replied, " Well, we can still go, I'll carry everything with my big muscles, you won't have to life a thing! See these big muscles mommy!"

Mommy to Drew, " Drew please don't get close to that window, its open and I don't want you to fall through."

Drew replied, " Would I die? I know, I could put on a parachute and then I wouldn't die falling out the window!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coupon Collecting – Where are all the coupons:


Websites to begin learning the basics of couponing, coupon collecting, and daily deals:

www.moneysavingmom.com

www.mypennypile.com

www.stretchingabuck.com

www.freebies4mom.blogspot.com

www.becentsable.net - finding grocery deals in your area by store name

www.afullcup.com – Great resource for grocery deals like Target and for printable coupons or coupon exchanges

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  • The Sunday Newspaper: Double ads from the Dallas Morning News is 2.89, see if neighbors want to give you their extra sets if they do not use them.
  • The Wednesday Paper (The Grocery Ads): Grocery ads in our area tend to run Wednesday through Tuesday so look for these either in your mailbox or a private company delivers them to your door each week.
  • Mail-order: Sign up for coupons via the websites listed above, join the e-mail lists of the brands you frequent the most. Also sign up for VocalPoint which will send you 5-10 coupons a month for free or next to free items, they even throw in samples each month!
  • Entertainment Book: found at the local school or at www.entertainment.com
  • In/On Packages – Look for coupons on products in the stores, these are called pelies, also many boxes will have coupons inside our on the backside of the product.
  • Online: Cellfire, Upromise, Shortcuts will all allow you to load additional coupons onto store card. Ebates is a rebate program for online purchases. The websites listed above will direct you to manufacture sites which will allow you to print coupons (normally twice), and bricks online coupons which can be printed in either Firefox or Internet Explorer. Also, becoming fans of your favorite products on facebook will open the doors for more and more coupons and free items!
  • E-mail clubs via manufactures websites: For example: Gymboree, Beech Nut, CVS, Dove, etc.
  • Stores: Many stores like Walgreens and CVS have books with additional store coupons. Walgreen's has two coupon booklets (1) at the front with monthly coupons (2) Pharmacy coupon deals (quarterly) which are normally coupons for over the counter drugs.

    Be Sure to register your store cards like Tom Thumb and Kroger! You'll get tons of coupons in the mail from those stores which are partial to what you purchase, also when you check out many times you will receive additional coupons from their coupon printer.

  • Magazines:

    Kiwi Magazine – organic coupons, mostly children's products, many times each year this magazine is offered free!

All You – Tons of great coupons in each months magazine, I paid 15.00 for a two year subscription which has paid for itself many times over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If You Give A Mom A Minute.....


If You Give a Mom a Minute,

She will notice that her son's chin is covered in peanut butter and jelly,
When she goes to wipe it off, she notices that he is also stinky,
So she carries her child upstairs for a diaper change,
Mom steps over dirty laundry and then decides to pick them up and places them in the hamper,
Next, as she goes to change the diaper she notices that there aren't any diapers in the diaper stacker so she heads to the closet for refills,
After opening a new packages of diapers she decides to put them all in the diaper stacker so next time there will be plenty.
As she is placing them in the diaper stacker, her son decides to climb off the changing table,
So she picks him up and puts him back on the table to change his diaper, which is the whole reason she went upstairs to begin with,

As she is wiping her sons bottom, she notices that they are low on wipes, so she refills those as well.
While mom is refilling the wipes, her son sticks his hand in his private parts, so she decide to wash off his hands.
As she is washing his hands with a baby wipe she notices that his finger nails are very long,
So off to the bathroom she darts to grab the finger nail clippers.
When she grabs the clippers, she notices that they are slippery and covered in oil,
The Mother quickly notices that an entire bottle of CHI mineral oil was emptied in the drawer, probably by her son who is still laying naked on the changing table - he just wet on the wall, but she doesn't know this yet.
Quickly she grabs a washcloth and begins cleaning out the oil in the drawer, reorganizes the contents and marches back into the nursery to discover that the wall and changing table are covered in pee.
She quickly disinfects the wall and table, puts the clean diaper onto her son's bottom, and then begins clipping her son's nails.
While clipping the long finger nails, she decides to do the toe nails as well.

Soon the older 4 year old child emerges and wants his nails trimmed too.
Then the mother gets out the vacuum to clean up all the dirty nail clippings and remembers that the boys didn't wash their hands after she clipped their dirt and bacteria filled nails.
So she corrals them in the bathroom, unfortunately the younger child dumps a glass of water all over the neatly cleaned drawer while the mother is educating the older son on how to properly soap between his fingers.
At this point the telephone rings and the mother, now completely out of breath, decides to sit down and think about why diaper changes take so blasted long?

Just A typical Day in the Williams Household!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Labor Of Love



Very early this morning I awoke to pains resembling labor, only it was just short term indigestion. Never the less, it left me awake and with some adrenaline to insure I didn't fall back asleep. Memories flooded my mind of the two births I'd already walked through and then gave anticipation towards the pending birth of our daughter. As I lay awake, I meditated on the vast differences between the births of my two boys. Then in the quiet, the Lord showed me Himself through those trials of labor. A labor of love which I willingly accepted.

Drew's birth was my hardest, I'd spent 3 months cooped up in bed, no birthing classes, nothing to prepare me to labor - after all I'd spent 3 months keeping myself out of labor, what would make me think of preparing for the actual event? It seems silly now, but at the time I was so consumed with all the things I couldn't do that I forgot to focus on the things I could do. So when the anticipated day, that 24th day of January, arrived I knew due to the baby's lack of movements that we were going to deliver. John and I anxiously listened to the doctors words, I removed the trebulatine pump which had kept contractions at bay for 10 weeks with gladness! The effects, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, shortness of breath, would continue for another 24 hours! Drew's birth was a roller coaster of nerves, I was induced with petocin and waited. Nothing happened for an hour, but once my water broke I went from 5 to 10 centimeters in 10 minutes. One minute I was falsely believing that labor was easy, the next in severe pain. What I didn't know was that Drew wasn't quite straight in the birth canal and I was having back labor. I also didn't know you could have contractions that were double peeking - one contraction would build and then another would take its place. I had no rest between contractions, they all rolled into one painful event. Thank the Lord the trial only lasted about 10-15 minutes, then our beautiful baby boy emerged perfect and healthy. It was a day I'll never forget!

For Gabe's birth, I was more prepared on that November day - determined I wasn't going to be in the hospital over my favorite holiday! I made sure that I didn't have high doses of petocin in my system and I didn't even have a terb pump; that made things much simpler. After the doctor broke my water and I was started on a low drip of petocin I started to have real contractions -the kind that roll up and then end! I felt more like I was in a marathon, each break I was preparing for the next leg of the race. I could focus on my breathing, concentrate on my body's response and move positions to accommodate. It was a wonderful birth because I was prepared, I'd done this before, I knew what was around the corner. I knew those feelings and urges and also knew that I was almost done. Our little Gabe was born in about 20 minutes and 2-3 pushes. He came out peaceful and didn't even cry right away, just stared at his new world and took everything in. Much like he takes on life today.

Then the Lord showed me that the trials I've experienced in my 7 years of marriage are much like my labor of love delivering my boys. The first part of our marriage I wasn't at all prepared for. The trials came and I wasn't ready. I had double peaking trials - one set allowed by God to strengthen; the other set brought on by my own sin. The weight of those trial seemed too much to bare some days; I knew that the Lord was there - but I was still learning how to have an intimate relationship with my Father. It was a rough climb out of that desert. I remember many days when all I could do to keep from crying was to repeat Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The Lord was so near in those times, even though I didn't feel like it. He walked with me and challenged me in the areas of my faith which were lacking. It spurred me on to acknowledge my sins and then set things back in order by repenting and changing my behavior. Those double-peaking trials in my early marriage were such a blessing - they forced me (John too!) to go through the hard work of paying of debt, saving, waiting on the Lord for provision, and also taught us how to pray. I began to see that my journey on this earth wasn't for my convenience (still learning this every day!), its a laying down of my own selfishness, changing into the likeness of my covenant partner Jesus Christ. That confessing to be a follower of Christ means laying down my own life, my own agenda and taking steps to obey the sacred love letter of God - the Bible.

Gabe's birth taught me that I needed to be prepared. I do know that trials will come, they must come in order to grow into the likeness of my Father (James 1). But there is a difference in allowing the Lord to refine me through His trials and reaping the discipline of my own disobedience. I learned that it is so much more intimate a walk, when the trials are not of my own doing. In the bible study on Covenant that I'm presently working through, I've learned so much about the Holiness of God and His immutability - unchanging nature (Mal 3:6). This sacred oath which I have made with God, who can not lie or change, is binding forever and into eternity. My life in Christ, as Kay Arthur says is. "A walk unto death." A death to my old self and the acceptance of Christ's identity which will change my entire being. It is a life of change which involves a deep intimate relationship with Jehovah -- nothing within me should look like my old self because I have cut covenant with Christ and accepted His identity. In exchange Christ took on my sin-filled identity and crucified it on the cross, so I can posses intimacy and direct representation with God. I'm learning what God sacrificed for communion with me - with all mankind who choose to take on such a covenant. This covenant is sacred, eternal, unchanging, and binding forever - change isn't optional it is a bi-product of walking into such a covenant. Something I haven't always taken seriously in my 15 years as a Believer.

Being a Christ follower isn't just a one time prayer, a decision to get baptized, a quick fix to my problems - it is a sacred and holy covenant - "A Walk Into Death." A dieing to myself. A hard road, a labor of love towards daily, moment by moment change.
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.
~Charles Spurgeon 1855

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend Home Makeover

Watch the Channell 11 video here to see the Green team on the news!

Below is the video Northwood's great production team put together for finishing out the makeover for 2009!

Home Makeover 09 Highlights from Northwood Church on Vimeo.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Freedom of Fall


Today it felt like Autumn, it has been the season for a few weeks, but just today it finally felt right - must be the 55 degree day of chilly windy weather! Thus the traditions have begun! Today we celebrated with Makeover at church, John spent his day off in the garage, hiding from the rain, and working on some exciting projects for the Home Makeover. We enjoyed cocoa and breathed in the cool brisk air with our warm coats and boots. Such a delightful day. I finally gave in and put Fernando Ortega's CD's into the player, broke out the pumpkin spice candles and spend the afternoon doing laundry. It was fun laundry because a friend from John's work gave him 3 bags of children's clothes! Most were cute, adorable little girl outfits and some boy clothes that were thrown in were perfect for Gabe. What a blessing! Abby will be so stocked, I only kept about half so I can pass the blessing along to my friend Nicole who is also having a little girl around the same time I am. Abby and her Amelia will be best of friends!

I love this simple season of staying home, making Christmas gifts, planning a great meal with family and friends, making ornaments with the boys, reading old classics, telling/acting out stories of the pilgrims, watching God's incredible sunsets, and I can't forget collecting bullfrogs around the neighborhood for my near-hibernating garden (I wish you were here Bethany!).

Drew loved just spending time breathing in the sawdust in the garage today - the smell of pine and oak is missed in our home over the long summer. John takes a break from the art of carpentry and focuses on other talents, once the cool Fall begins so does Daddy's imagination. He gets giddy about all the new wood magazines that come in the mail, makes to do lists filled with all the projects he wants to accomplish this season, and gets to work. While I laundered around the laundry singing Fernando tunes I smiled many times while listening to the hum of the sander, or the shrill of the table-saw. Fall is a time for getting back to the basics of life, the basics of my faith too. Fall is like a new beginning for me, a reset button on my life, where the quiet and reflection allow me to rest and remain silent in God's presence while he gentle leads me through new paces and practices.

Much of my study over the years has been on God's character. This season I'm meditating in Kay Arthur's study on "Covenant." This is by far the most in depth and life changing study I've ever done. Each lesson God just speaks to me in new and exciting ways. New layers on God's character are being revealed and are seen in new light - the light of Covenant. I hope to write more soon about all I'm learning. I am 4 weeks into the class and I'm still digesting and filling my mind with the scriptures - such new light on old verses - soon it will be time to journal and I hope to post more in this little place.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Past Week In Pictures


Finally able to wear long sleeves!


Showing me that he knows where his fingers are!


Time outside enjoying the cool weather.


Drew is learning how to Rollerblade.


Yes, still teething..... I'm a grouch!


Fun Outside on an overcast Fall Day.... Perfect!


Gotta love the knees in flour.... your not truly baking unless you make a mess!


Re-inacting the Squire & The Scroll with our castle and dragon!


Painting our ornaments for Fall - must be a tradition now since this is year #2!


We had a very busy week of fun! The highlight was seeing our little girl via ultrasound last Friday - she looked great, last very active and happy. She was justa little small, but only 3 days smaller than her estimated due date. At 21 weeks I've gained 10 pounds, which is remarkable since I'd gained atleast 20 with the boys. I guess there can be a bright side to 16 weeks of morning sickness! The boys are loving school and Gabe has been teething.... again! We spent the week painting, baking, and using our imaginations. Drew and I even managed a tea "date" with his favorite re-inactment of The Squire and the Scroll.

What Faith Can Do ~ Kutless