Sunday, March 20, 2011

On contentment and redecorating

This first picture is what our room looked like before the major redecorating. This picture is actually a huge improvement from what it was before (which was really unorganized since I didn't have the bookshelf-headboard. The books and things were on the floor and there wasn't room for a baby bed or good space for the baby things.) This baby bed has been recalled and it's not only illegal to re-sell it, the company said to disassemble it and trash the thing. *sigh* I actually wanted a different bed anyway since this was hard to use at night. I'd like to get a jump jump for it at least so it's not totally lost... it was like $200, so it's pretty annoying how all that turned out.
Anyway, a little over a week ago I keep thinking about what I needed for the baby's coming and how I couldn't get the stuff (like the bed and other things as well.) I was struggling with being content and kept worrying about the things I couldn't do. I came to a point though where I realized that if I was going to be in the place I needed to be in- with trusting God and being content- that I needed to throw my energy into a better place than worry and/or thinking of what I didn't have. SO I started pulling from my creativity like I did when I was growing up. I couldn't afford to buy anything so I always had to make things from whatever I had. I racked my brain about any fabric or any crafts that I still had (since I got rid of so much before moving) that could some how be tied together to redecorate our room where Grace will be. I've never decorated with any specific theme or color for a new baby before and it just seemed like a fun thing to do this time.
My main goal was to find something that would match the shoe rack that my sister-in-law sent to me to hold the baby clothes. The diaper holder that I had for the girls just didn't work (color-wise.) BUT I had this "Fancy Nancy fabric left over from a blanket that my Gramma is making for Grace!!! I used the old diaper holder as the pattern and made this one pictured bellow. (I love the "Fancy Nancy" books and so do my girls!) You can't tell in the picture, but there are some little jingle bells on some of the ribbon hanging from the bow on the top of the diaper holder. So, each time I get a diaper (it's holding Renna's night-time diapers right now) the little bells tinkle! That's kind of fun. ;] All of the fabrics and embellishments are just things that I found in my scraps or the girls dress up box.

Another thing that I got from my Gramma a while ago was this fairy panel and it seemed like a perfect thing to go with a sort of fairy-tale children's book sort of theme. The decorating was coming together! I happened to have a lot of red fabrics and red was different than the blue and green that I always had going on before, and seemed like a good thing to go with the black and white that I'd started with. Anyway, for this wall hanging I just sewed the panel on top of this red fabric and bordered it with a black velvet- like a frame. The leaves were some fabric that was left over from some banners that I'd made for Grace Bible Church that still had some two sided interfacing on it. Cutting the leaves was no big deal and then ironing them on. The black puff paint was left over from a project about 6 years ago! I helped Youssef make a spider-man costume back then and there was actually enough left to make these little squiggly designs to sort of mimic the paisley look from the shoe rack. The quote on the wall hanging is this "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." by C.S. Lewis. There was another one that I actually liked better, but this was shorter. ;]
Okay, so the comforter that I made reminded me so much of a chess board.. which then reminded me a lot of "Alice through the looking glass" that I thought adding some "Alice" imagery would go with the "theme" too! I already had the framed picture of the white and red rose (I drew that when I was a teenager and was into doing a lot of colored pencils) and that totally reminded me of the "painting the roses red" thing in "Alice in Wonderland"... well.. When I was at my Mom's in Jan. she gave Lily some old paper dolls from when I was a kid. I went through all of them and found a white bunny and tea things and a couple fans and a pocket watch and a little doll that looked like she could be Alice. ANYWAY, gluing them onto some black and using some frames that I had left over from my artworks worked well. The little card people are just some brown pipecleaners and playing cards and google eyes. The heads of the cards are paper beads that my mother-in-law gave to Lily. (Lily had fun helping with these little card people.) And ESPECIALLY painting the white roses! The white roses were the only things that I actually bought (so, the entire re-decorating cost $2.50!) The paint was some red fingernail polish that I had. :}

Here's Renna testing out the comforter. ;] The quilt took the longest of course to make of all this, but it was amazing how well it all came together! I cut the blocks at 10 inches each and slapped it together. I thought I'd need to add a border or something onto the edge of the finished top so that it would fit onto the comforter that I already had (now it's a two sided comforter!) or I thought that it would be too large and the edge blocks would have to be cut in half or something, YET when I laid it all out!!! It was about as perfect as possible! I didn't pre-measure it perfectly to fit. I just threw out the stuff and got it as close as I could, and providentially it turned out just right. It's amazing to me how often that sort of thing happens by how God works in our lives.

I started this re-decorating project last Saturday or so and threw myself into the excited place of creativity. The result was contentment with what I had, and last Thursday all the worries that I'd been struggling with were suddenly taken care of. It was like, every good thing that could happen suddenly did! Right now I'm feeling overly and abundantly blessed. Among other things, my in-laws bought us the baby bed which looks like THIS which will totally match the new decor! I'm pretty excited about the baby bed.. it only took me two children and three pregnancies to figure out what that "perfect" baby bed should be, BUT I think this will work the best!

The last thing that I want to do in the decorating realm is just to paint the headboard/bookshelf black. I'd already wanted to do that since all my furniture is either black or cherry, but I think it will look especially good with the new bedspread and color scheme. Paint is a really inexpensive way to change something too. I have some other small things to paint black besides the headboard, so a little thing of paint will go a long way.

This was a fun project to work on and it really helped me learn to be content right now. Perhaps someone reading this will get inspired to work on what they can control with what they already have!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I recently got a compliment.. or observance... from a friend that has known me since I was 12. He said that he could see this the most after I got married, but just said that he was impressed at how well I manage our budget and home.

It's a funny compliment because it's like being told that you're a really patient person.. or humble or something. It doesn't feel gratifying in anyway to be told that I'm good at managing the very little that we have (by still being able to make healthy homecooked meals and use what resources I have to decorate our house and so forth.) It usually just feels like I'm constantly living in the "necessity is the mother of invention" that I've always been in; even growing up. I mainly just feel like I'm doing what I need to do. It's difficult usually and takes creativity and doesn't feel like something that I should get a compliment about, but in another way it was nice to hear because of the difficult time we are in now and because I'm more likely to feel embarrassed about how little I have to manage than like I'm living in victory. There's always the thought that if I were better at living modestly and budgeting even closer then it wouldn't be as hard as it is right now with Youssef out of work. So, in that way it was encouraging to hear, especially since it was from an old friend that has observed what we've gone through over the years and who knows me pretty well.

However, food budgeting was a LOT easier before I went gluten free. Lily and I become useless lumps if we have wheat though. It's hard enough just dealing with two little kids, homeschooling, and being pregnant and naturally more tired. Adding back wheat wouldn't be worth it considering the ridiculous lethargy that it seems to create in me (and Lily too) .. and mood swings (I have enough with pregnancy.. I don't need to add more by just eating wheat) besides other issues that aren't as immediate. SO! How do I do it?

Here's something that I discovered as I was looking for tomato soup. Lily and I really like tomato soup and it's a pretty easy lunch. The problem is that the normal Cambells brand or whatever have wheat in it. The gluten free kind that I used to get in WA (which was super tasty and organic and all!) was about $2.50 at a good price. I did see that same stuff here, but it was $4.50. For many of you, spending less than $5 for a meal for three people isn't a big deal. For us.. it's a pretty big gigantic deal.


I get a 98 cent can of HUNTS tomato sauce! Yes, you can do this too.

Just add milk (about 1/2 cup or more to taste)
1 tsp of sugar (or more if you like the soup less tart)
little salt
perhaps some pepper
Sprinkle of basil

Totally fabulous! Add little amounts to start and mix it up and then taste and add more if you think it needs extra of something. It's one of the fastest (and cheapest) lunches that I can do right now and is healthy and gluten free! It's a win win win all around. :]

This along with a few other things to go with the lunch feeds our whole family. Very affordable for us right now.. and is a nice break from our staple of beany chili. :]

Monday, March 07, 2011

Renna's 3rd birthday

She had a very fun birthday. We didn't do a ton because Youssef is still pretty sick (and was worn out from doing stuff the day before) but Renna was totally fine with hanging out at home and slowly opening presents and playing with them. She got to talk to Gramma and Grandpa and Uncle Jonathan on Skype and show them her new toys and things. She's wearing an outfit from Auntie Natalie and totally loves the poke-a-dots.

Lunch was special with some gf mac&cheese and chips and a movie she picked out from netflix.
Lily kept wanting to move the party forward and open another gift or do something or other, but Renna was totally fine with having a mostly normal day with presents scattered through it and just a few fun things. Lily is quite active though and I needed to remind her and Youssef to slow down at one point because Renna needed some down time. I'm glad for her personality right now because her birthday wasn't "ruined" by not having a big party with tons of friends and things to do or anything like that. It was just right for her. :]

Three helium balloons since she turned three (seemed appropriate) I just read this article about how helium is one of those resources that is disappearing pretty quickly. And apparently these balloons are actually worth $100 (or should be if the market was allowed to set the price or something) anyway.. seeing as I bought them at the dollar store, I guess I got a really good deal. ;]
She woke up a bit too early though. At 4 in the morning I found her already up and holding two "My little ponies" that were decorating the table (that my Mom had sent to decorate with), one present was partly open, and she'd started watching a movie on her little dvd player. Umm.. yeah.. and it was 4 IN THE MORNING! I snuggled her back to sleep and she got enough sleep at least to not be grumpy for the DAY part of her birthday. ;] It was pretty funny, but I don't think I'll decorate after they go to sleep again... it's just too exciting for them when they wake up in the middle of the night.

Renna is such a sweet heart. She always reminds us if we forget to pray before we eat together, and we had her cupcakes in the middle of the afternoon. Half way through her cupcake she held out her hands and said, "Oh, forgot to pway!" And then told us that she would pray. (She's only offered to pray one other time.) And her quiet little prayer went something like "Thank you God for dis yummy food and cupcakes and for my presents and for today, AMEN!"

I love how sincere her prayer was. Lily is the same way, we've never made them pray or take turns or teach them formulaic prayers... they just get to pray if they want to, and so far when they do pray it seems to be straight from their heart and what they are really thankful for. I love that. :]
The other day when Lily wanted to pray before a meal she prayed that Daddy would have a job when the new baby is born.

You can kind of see the cupcakes in the picture above. That was the only thing that I really was able to make into the theme she wanted. She wanted "Rainbow dash and Cherrilee" theme. So, gf cupcakes sent from my mom and some whip cream (for the clouds on top) and sprinkles left over from forever ago are all the colors of the rainbow. The maraschino cherries on top were left over from Christmas. I'm so glad she felt like everything was special and just right. She was really happy about it all! Yay, success!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Renna is almost 3!

It's hard to believe that my second little baby is almost three years old. She doesn't *seem* that old until I look back at pictures of Lily at the same age and realize what Lily was learning to do at three. I have to remind myself to expect more from Renna (that is, I have to remind myself to expect as much as I did with Lily at the same age.)

She's grown so well and I'm really proud of her thankfulness especially. She is quite polite (for the most part) saying "thankyou" quite often when I or Lily help her with something. She is still very dramatic of course. It's just in her nature to be so. If she can't do something she laments and still will be known to lay on the floor with a pathetic fake cry as she talks about how she "can't do" the thing. The trick though right now is teaching her that she really CAN do it. Our latest struggle had been with potty training. Right at first she had no problem pulling up her own undies, but after a little while she must have decided that she still wanted to be "helped" and be the baby a bit more so she said she "couldn't do it." After getting back from the trip to Washington the potty training (which HAD been going quite well with hardly any accidents) went WAY down hill and we were dealing with a couple accidents a day (this was after she'd even started potty training herself at night!)

Guess what a little motivation will do though? For Lily's school I have a sticker chart that looks something like this one pictured.

Well, I got the idea that I should start doling out the stickers to Renna for going potty in the toilet and it's been AMAZING. If she starts to complain about "not wanting to" or even not wanting to at least *try* to pull up her own pants I just have to remind her that she'll get a sticker and her attitude completely changes and she'll try right away. Right now the "prize" at the end (where the star is) is a little bag of Annie's gf all natural gummy bunnies. She will even share some with Lily and that is such a sweet thing to see too. Lily gets prizes at the end of her sticker chart as well (she has fewer stickers to get to her prize because her work is harder than just going potty in the toilet several times a day.) She usually picks out a project from the dollar store (like painting or a large coloring book or craft things or a puzzle) and she will share some of her prize with Renna sometimes too.

I read a great thing about teaching kids to be organized and there was a chart that essentially was just illustrating that if children don't have some sort of work and reward balance they will be either spoiled (if they have no work, but get a reward) rebellious (if they have work to do but don't get a reward) or apathetic (if they do no work and get no reward)... SO, the right balance of course is to find the right amount of work (or chores or tasks or whatever you want to call it) with a good motivation that is in balance with the proportion of the work.

Anyway, all that to say.. I've seen an amazing transformation in just a few days with the potty training and how Renna responds to the motivation (the sticker chart.) I think she also likes that it's similar to Lily's and she gets to do a big girl thing too. Renna has been joining Lily while we do school together and can sing the whole phonetic alphabet song that we use in "sing, spell, read, write".. it's so adorable to watch her sing it with us, I really need to have Youssef get some video of them!

Her birthday is this Sunday and she's been so excited about it for such a long time (essentially ever since Lily's birthday she's been asking when it will be HER birthday!) it's going to be a fun day. :]