Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Mania

I have once again been a bad blogger. Between starting my new job (yay!!) last week and half our family having the stomach flu this weekend into today (boo!!)...I feel like we are just treading water to make it through!!

The job is still going good. I am learning new things every day and today I even answered the phone. YIKES! Is it crazy that my biggest fear about the job is having to possibly answer the phones?!  I am not a huge talk-on-the-phone lover, I won't call and order a pizza and I always feel like I sound like a goober. So getting used to a new name and way to answer and phone system has me a little nervous...but it will come!

I feel like I haven't shared a lot here good pictures, stories etc. I will try and get better about that. I love having the memories stored some where for my family and don't want to give that up.

But for now some random thoughts from our home....

Isaac got his braces off today and then got the stomach flu so I don't have a good picture of him yet to post. He looks awesome and SO much older! I did a before picture on Sunday night so when he is feeling better I will get the after shot and post it!

Gabriel sat down on Saturday (when Dominic and I were both sick) and read his whole Bible front to back. Granted it was a kids Bible...but none the less I am proud of him! He is such a good kid!

Elijah is at that stage where I wish I could record everything he says. He is so darn cute. The way he says "ohhh thanks mom" melts my heart. And is he learning how to go potty on his own more and more lately and is SOOO proud of himself when he does it. Now we just have to teach him how to get redressed so he doesn't come half naked out of the bathroom when we have company. (Yes this happened!)

Karlena is just such a sweet "miss". She probably thinks that is her name because Dominic and I call her that all the time! :)  She isn't a baby anymore and it makes me just a little bit sad. She likes to go up the stairs by herself and play alone in the toy room. She is just such a good little girl!

I sold my first item on Ebay this week and made $70!! WOOHOO. I am totally exited and am looking around for other things we can live without! ;)

We are making some very big decisions right now as a family. I can't share the details at this point...but I can say that God has been closing some doors and leaving open others. We are trying to seek out His will in our decisions and are praying that He blesses this new road. It is scary and unknown but Dominic continues to remind me/us that God is right there with us and this too will be for His glory!

Please pray for us as we walk this unchartered territory.

I guess that's all I have for now....we were supposed to be getting this HUGE storm starting tomorrow and I was honestly looking forward to a good ol' blizzard...but now it apparently has changed and we are only expected to get an inch or two. Normally I wouldn't be about the snow...but since we have had none this winter I was just a tiny bit excited about the possibility!

So now that I have shared some of my randomness...please share some of yours! :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Job Update

Well today I joined the ranks of the employed once again! I started a job with a local Ameriprise office here in Marshall as a planning assistant.

The small group of people that I am working with are all wonderful - very welcoming and helpful and I feel like it will be a good fit.

Of course I am a bit intimidated about all that I need/want to learn to be successful. I always put big expectations on myself and I need to remember that I am now learning new programs, schedules etc and it will take time.

And you know one awesome perk about this job? I live so close that I can run home for lunch and relax a little and get back and it just takes minutes. I haven't had something like that for YEARS. I made it to pick up the kids by 5:05pm and was home and getting dinner ready by 5:30. I don't miss the commuting that we did for so long at all!

Overall I am so encouraged by today and will continue to work hard and learn and hopefully grow from this experience as well!  I am very grateful that God provided this job for me and I hope that I can be a light to those I work with!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dayspring Giveaway Winners!!

We have the winners picked for the Dayspring giveaways!! I wish that I was able to send each of you something special...but please know that I am praying for all of you and hope that God will bless each of you in a special way this week!

I tried and tried to get the generator html code to transfer to the blog so that I could "prove" who the winners were...but it kept leaving me a box saying "page not found".  Not being a computer wiz I wasn't able to figure out what I was doing wrong. Please trust that the numbers picked were the 1st two samples generated!

The winner of the $20 Dayspring gift code is.....

#15 Madeline Brubaker! Congrats I will be sending the $20 code to your e-mail! I hope you are able to find something fun for yourself!!

And the winner of the Dayspring gift set that I was sent to review is .....

#4 Sal B! Can you please email me at kasmith03(at)gmail(dot)com?! Send me your mailing address and I will get the gift set out to you this week!!

Yay - this was so much fun - thank you all for participating! Have a wonderful week!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Funnies!

At school Gabriel's class works on writing with these problem and solution organizers.

This is what he brought home the other day.  It cracks me up that of all the problems/solutions...he thought of this.....something that happened over a year ago.

Ahhh yes...the old cat peed on my couch so dad cleaned it up with a garbage bag and a towel story. Who doesn't have that one to tell??

Just the story that I had hoped he would share with his class! :)  It made me laugh though and so not wanting to keep all the fun for myself I thought I would share it here!

Have your kids ever shared a funny at school that you wished they hadn't??

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dayspring - Blessed and Loved AND a Giveaway!!

I LOVE being able to partner with Dayspring. They have so many beautiful products and who doesn't like getting a little something for free to review every once and awhile?!

This month I was sent the "Blessed and Loved" Collection to review.

Included in this set was a gift bag, a yearly "daybrightener", a hard cover journal and a tea cup set.

I got the set on February 3rd and the verse in the daybrightener for that day was so fitting for me. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Perfect timing!!

This would be a wonderful set to give a friend. (And I may just be doing that keep on reading!!)

The journal is hard cover and so beautiful.

And many of the pages inside have a scripture verse on them at the bottom.

I can invision myself drinking my hot chocolate in the tea cup and writing in the journal!
And I love that it has its own coaster as well!

But now its my turn to share the love a little!! Dayspring has given me a code to give away to one lucky reader for $20 off your next Dayspring order. Regular shipping rates will apply and a minimum purchase of $20 is required.

There are lots of great items on sale right now - so I know one of you will really enjoy finding something special!

AND just because I love my readers so much and want to share the blessings that have been given to us recently I am also going to give away the set that I received to review!

For one chance to win just leave a comment sharing how someone has blessed you recently and you will be entered!!

For 3 additional entries you may:
Share this blog post on Facebook - leave a comment saying you did so.
Tweet about the giveaway - leave a comment saying you did!
Become a follower of my blog/or comment you are already a follower!

So that's 2 great prizes and 4 chances to win!  I will pick the winners on Monday February 20th!

**Dayspring provided me this set to review at no cost to me but the opinions expressed here are absolutely my own!**

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meeting (in) Real Life?

One of the greatest gifts I have received from blogging is the friendships I have made with other bloggers.  I know there are skeptics out there that think those of us behind the computer screen must be a bunch of crazies :) and how could you meet people from online and form friendships?

But it has happened and I have MANY friends that have encouraged me and walked with me through both good and difficult times. Friends that leave comments or send e-mails and texts. Some of these beautiful women I have met in real life and others we haven't had the chance yet.

My friends over at (in)courage have seen how so many of us have connected online and want to encourage us to get together on a set weekend and have (in)RL meetups!

In their words: 
Yup, we're bringing the beach house to you with the goal of connecting women beyond the blog post! How? Well, with a day of (in)courage meetups - think mini beach house parties - all around the country and globe and a webcast for everyone to tune into. A local meetup on a global scale; friends will gather to watch live webcasts of (in)courage contributors and community, connect with one another, and discover new friendships they didn't know were right around the corner!

There will be something for everyone - walking, talking, laughing, hugging blog content - right in the comfort of your living room. The webcast kicks off on Friday, April 27 and (in)RL beach house parties follow on Saturday, April 28 with more live (in)courage content to tune into together. Just imagine thousands of (in)courage women all over the world getting together in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, or churches - you name it- to connect in real life!

Watch the video below to learn a little more!

How fun right?

This is a chance for us to finally step out from behind the comfort of the computer and get to know each other on a deeper level.

To sign up for a "meetup" in your area just click here. The cost is just $10 and you get a t-shirt and a pack of cards from DaySpring and access to the web event.

I have signed up and am willing to have a group meet here for the day on Saturday April 28th...if anyone is interested?! I would love to spend the day encouraging one another and being encouraged as well!

For more details and questions answered check out this page over at (in)courage!

And if not this "event" - please consider finding a way to reach out and "meet" someone new in your area - you never know what friendships you might make if you do!!

Valentine's Dinner

We wanted to do something special for the kids yesterday to celebrate Valentine's Day. So we went to our local Dollar Store to find some goodies.

I love that they have balloons for a dollar. All of the kids love getting balloons and this was a cheap and easy way to decorate up the table.  We just tied a balloon to the backs of each of their chairs.
The I cut out some paper hearts and hung them from the light fixture above the table. Karlena couldn't stop looking at them...I think we may have to leave those up for awhile! And I am going to save them in a bag so that we can do this again next year!

And we got each of the kids a few fun things from the dollar store, like glow sticks, Valentine's suckers, a magic trick kit for Gabriel and a stuffed flower for Karlena.

They were all pretty excited to see the table all dressed up and the balloons and gifts kept them busy for a majority of the evening!!

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Covenant Kind of Love

When I married Dominic waaaaay back in 1996 I had many dreams for what our life would be.  I knew that we would have a house and a family, good jobs and maybe a dog.  We would work hard and see the benefits of that hard work.

Life would be easy and fun and full of love.

Isn't that what every bride and groom think? That love will get them through anything? And troubles??? What troubles - surely we wouldn't have any of those!

And then reality hits, life gets hard and sometimes it isn't easy to love.

So what then?

I think too many people - me included initially - thought that love was all we needed. But then when things did get tough and the lovey-dovey feelings weren't flowing very much....didn't know what to do next.

Over the years Dominic has reminded me about the covenant commitment we made to each other when we said our vows.  It wasn't that we would love each other as long as it "felt" good. No, it was that we committed ourselves to each other in good times and bad, in sickness and in health for better and for worse, till death parts us.

We made that covenant with God in front of our family and our friends. And that means that we must love and encourage one another, be respectful and kind in ALL things.  

Regardless of how we are "feeling".

I have been a bit of an emotional wreck lately. I feel overwhelmed and depressed and scared about the changes that our family might be facing. Since I can't see the future (although I wish like heck I could!!) I can only guess...but I am just plain scared about the future and what it holds for us.

I typically am very positive about God's plan and trusting Him in the good and bad times. But the past several days have been bad and I have been negative and isolating.

This is one of those times where I am making it just a little VERY hard for Dominic to "love" me.  If it were all about the feelings we would probably be in a tough place.

But Dominic loves me with a covenant kind of love. The kind of love that says I am going to give 110% right now even if you can't, I am going to support you and love you and encourage you...even if it isn't returned.

Dominic has modeled such love and grace to me and I am such a lucky woman.  Although we don't exchange big, fancy, expensive gifts on Valentine's Day - I wouldn't want things any other way.

My heart is full because God placed a wonderful man in my life and I am so grateful that on a day when we celebrate love that I am gifted with so much more than that.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our Little Sweetie

Warning: Picture Overload!
Karlena looked so cute after church this morning that I had to take just a couple of photos to share. This is just a handful of the ones I took!






Friday, February 10, 2012

Five Minute Fridays - TRUST

Today I am linking up with Lisa Jo of The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Fridays. The premise is simple - 5 minutes of writing, unedited, no back tracking, no overthinking!
Today's topic is TRUST.

Our family is being stretched in ways I can't even wrap my arms around right now. There are really only a few responses I can have....

Lay down and die or Trust.

I think it is interesting that the verse that I have been memorizing recently is Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Right now at this moment this is all I can do.


Trust that even though we can't see it....what will happen...that God has brought us to this place and He will walk us through it.

Trust that if nothing else we will come out of this time as a stronger family, couple...united.

Trust that we just have to deal with and live through today, and tomorrow will be taken care of tomorrow.

I don't need to spend endless hours wasted in worry.

All I have to do is trust.

Easy words to say when life is easy-peasy...

Difficult to walk through when life is not.

But this is my choice, it has to be. If not now then all of the words I ever expressed before about God's love and faithfulness mean nothing.

I am trusting you God - I don't understand, I don't agree but I trust.

I have to.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Anonymous Gift

"All the things in this world are gifts and signs of God's love to us. The whole world is a love letter from God" ~ Peter Kreeft

It is in my nature to be a giver I think. I enjoy being able to give gifts to others, or help out a person(s) in need, to give without expecting anything in return.  It is not as easy though for me to receive.

I am sure it is my pride. I want to be able to say that I can take care of it and I didn't have to ask for help.  It is a lesson that God has been teaching me the past few weeks.  Teaching me how to be humble and grateful and willing to accept a "gift" when it has been given to me.

Today was another one of those times.

When I went to get the kids from daycare I was talking with Markel and before I left she says to me that someone paid for the next 2 weeks of our daycare costs.

Excuse me?!

So she says it again....and I start to cry (of course!!) She says someone contacted her and asked what we pay for a weeks worth of child care and said they would be sending her a check. And she has promised to keep the donor anonymous.

I am just overwhelmed here.  I don't know that I can find the right words to express the depth of my gratitude that someone would do this for our family.  I don't understand it and the prideful part of my heart is frustrated that we would even need it in the first place.

But overall I am feeling so humbled and amazed at God's faithfulness.

You see the past week has been especially tough for me.  I have allowed my mind to focus on the negative and I had stopped believing that God's faithfulness could extend to our family. I was upset about our circumstances and tired of trying to act positive.  I was certain that things would not be ok.

Boy does it take a lot of energy to be mad at God!  I knew the truth but because I couldn't see it or tangibly feel it in MY time, I fought against it.

But in spite of me and my pride and anger God showed up in the form of this beautiful anonymous giver.  The Body of Christ in its truest sense.

I don't know who you are...or if you even read here and I wish that I could say thank you in person...but since I can't I hope that you know that this means more than you could possibly know.

And when we are in the position again we will pay the gift forward - until then I am praising God for His Body of believers.


Raising Honest Children

I know it will be hard to believe, based on the sweet and innocent picture here of our 2 1/2 year old.....

But our son is a liar.

And a BAD one!!

I am not talking about the kind of lies that show he has an active a little girl at our daycare who said she stole honey from a bear and the bear followed her to daycare that day.

That is cute, active play.

I am talking about the kind of lies that you wonder where they came from. How did he learn to respond that way without hesitation?!

I would like to believe that we are modeling honesty in our home and that this is some trait he was born with....

Here is an example of how this behavior has been presenting itself with Elijah.

Yesterday I gave the kids each a cupcake as a snack. No frosting...just a plain cupcake. Gabriel ate his over the garbage can so as not to spill all over the floor. I watched him do it.  I put Elijah in his chair at the table, gave him his cupcake and then went off to do something else. (Mistake on my part!!)

He knows that he isn't supposed to eat food away from the table, but a little while later I notice that there are cupcake crumbs all over the floor in the living room.

So I ask Elijah who made the mess and without even taking a moment to think about it he says "Gabriel!"  Gabriel is sitting at the table doing his homework. So I ask Elijah again and he gives me the same response. I ask Gabriel - did you make this mess and he says "No mom!" (And I know he didn't) Asking Elijah a third time after he has heard Gabriel's response and telling him that he needs to tell mama the truth he says, and with conviction I might add, "GABRIEL"!

Oh what's a mama to do?!

Later that evening I find an empty wrapper on the floor and ask again who's it is...knowing full well it was Elijah's and he says "Karlena's".

We have a problem on our hands here folks!!

So I started thinking about how we as parents can raise honest kids...

I think it starts first by modeling the behavior ourselves to our kids. Making sure that the things that Dominic and I say are a good example of honesty. And I think that for the most part I can say we do a good job at this.

It is tough, when you have a child that is so young, to help them understand what being honest is all about.  I tried talking with Elijah a little about how God wants us to tell the truth and when we don't it makes God sad. I asked him if he wanted God to be sad, and in another proud parenting moment he said "Yes!" (Shaking my head....)

But I think that just like teaching them to share their toys, or using their hands for hugs and waves and NOT hitting....teaching them about honesty will just be another thing that we will have to be looking for those moments like I had last night to reinforce the positive behavior. At some point he will get it.

But now I want to hear from you!! What has worked with your children?  I don't know that punishments/time outs etc are going to be a positive reinforcement and make the point I want to make. But maybe you have a different experience? I'd love to hear about it!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pink Swap!!

I LOVE the ideas of swaps. I participated in an ornament swap the past few years and in early January I heard about a "Pink Swap" happening over at Monograms and Manicures.  The idea was that you would be paired with another blogger and had a price limit and would purchase items that were pink to send to your partner!

Not only is it fun to shop for someone else, but it comes with the anticipation that you will be getting something fun yourself. And even better it gives bloggers the chance to connect with other bloggers that they might not otherwise "meet".

I was paired with Valerie over at This Cosmic Life of Mine. Of course I had to check out her blog for some ideas about what she might like - and she actually did the same thing for me! We discovered through tweets that our packages arrived on the same day too!

I was overwhelmed with what I received and am pretty sure she spent over the budget amount! :)  Here are The amazing and thoughtful things that I got!!

First of all Valerie sent everything in this pink and white basket. I have always wanted one of these because they are collapsible - so I was thrilled to finally get one!

Every morning I have a big cup of hot chocolate and I can't wait to have it in this beautiful mug.  The detailing on the mug is so pretty.

We both sent each other pink journals! And this one is fun with the words "Be Happy" on the front!

And what does a working mother of four need most? Nice treats for a spa day at home!! I got everything I might need to treat myself to a spa at home! Relaxation time here I come!!

I was so blessed by your gifts Valerie - thank you so much!!

Have you ever participated in a swap with other bloggers?? Know of any good annual swaps out there that I might need to know about?! :)  Please share if you do!

Easy Breakfast Idea

On most mornings the kids have a variety of things to choose from for breakfast - pop tarts, cereal, toast, muffins or frozen waffles.  It is what is fast and easy on our already rushed school mornings.

But on the weekends we like to have either pancakes or yummy breakfast burritos.  The "recipe" that I use is really simple and feeds our large family well.

First I will cut up some Kielbasa sausage into a large fry pan.

Then I will put a brown on the sausage a bit before I add the eggs.

Then just to keep things simple I crack my eggs right into the pan.  Our family can eat up to 15 eggs in a sitting. I know it is a lot, but eggs are fairly affordable and with 6 people in the home we eat a lot!!

My dad taught us the trick to add just a little bit of water to the mix and it helps make the eggs fluffy.

Scramble up the eggs as best you can in the pan and cook on medium heat. I use a rubber spatula and just stir constantly.

The sausage just cooks into the eggs and as you stir the mixtures gets cooked through and fluffy. All in one pan - I love how easy that is!!

I will just eat my egg/sausage mix plain with some toast, but the boys all make burritos out of it.

Put the eggs on the tortilla shell of your choice, add shredded cheese...

And you have one happy customer!!

What are some easy breakfast ideas that your family likes? Please share them here because I am always looking for new things to try!!

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