Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Liliana Hope!

A little late, but she'll forgive me I'm sure.

Happy Birthday to our sweet Lili. She is a treasured member of our family. Life is busy and exciting because of her! At 12 months...

She is walking, getting to standing from any position, climbing, getting into everything, self feeding, fully weaned, and the permant shadow of her big sister. She can say ball, book, baby, all done, what's that?, mama, dada, hot, hi. She can sign more, please, thank you, and all done. She loves to eat- anything. She loves her baby dolls and balls. She is a little monkey but the sweetest person you'll ever meet. Fully of life and energy Lili loves to take risks and explore her world. Happy birthday dear one. My how time flies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Presents for Kids

If your kids are anything like mine- they have lots of loving family- which means that lots of loving family loves to love on them at Christmas time. I'm not complaining. I love to give gifts too. But sometimes, it can be overwhelming. I love to give gifts to my kids. Its one way I like to show my love too. But I have wondered many times how to approach this at Christmas time- when I don't want a house overflowing with gifts and I want to maintain the focus on Jesus- the birth of our Savior (you know, the whole reason for the season thing!). I want my kids to first think of Christmas as a time to be joyful and thankful that God gave us the best gift ever in Jesus- and secondly to show our love like God did by giving gifts to others. After much debate my husband and I have (hopefully) come up with a 'tradition' that will allow us to maintain that focus, allow me to express my love by giving gifts, and to avoid over gifting.

I don't remember where I heard the idea in the first place, but there is gobs of stories online about this same topic- Giving the Gifts Jesus Got. Jesus got three special gifts to celebrate his birth (Christmas). Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The idea is to give each child three gifts based on what Jesus was given.

The Gold Gift- Gold is something valuable and treasured. This is a great way to give a gift of something the child wants, treasures, and desires more than anything else. The item they keep circling in the catalogs or eyeing in the store.

Frankincense- this is an incense that was burned and the smoke would billow up into the heavens. It often represents our prayers going up to God. So this gift should be something that would bring the child closer to God. Maybe a bible, book, dvd, or christian summer camp. Our kids will be getting the fisher price nativity set this year- a way for them to interact and get to know God's story better.

Myrrh- this is a precious oil that was rubbed on the body (often after death, but ewe, leave that part out!). So the Myrrh gift is an item that goes on the body. Ideas include clothing, shoes, coats, lotions.

What I love about this set-up is that there isn't a dollar amount affixed so I can go big or little depending on the year and our ability to give or it leaves room for the really really special 'gold' years of the 'wow' item. It is also meaningful and gives us a chance to reflect the whole experience and holiday right back on Christ. I still get to give, they get to receive, but it is not an overwhelming amount.

And after our sharing of gifts, we're hoping to throw Jesus a birthday party :) Cake and all.

So, if you are struggling with the idea of getting your kids presents this Christmas without overwhelming them- consider giving them the same as Jesus received!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Freegal Music

Ok, so this is more for those in the Kent County, Michigan zone, but maybe if you check your local library system, they will have something like it. Did you know that if you have a library card with KDL (Kent District Library) you can receive free mp3 downloads?

Its called Freegal Music. The library has its own 'library' of online mp3 downloadable music featuring artists from pop, r&b, gospel, holiday, children's, and more! Go to and go to the freegal page (under ebooks/downloads). Log in with your library card number and go! The search system is a little weak, so I end up browsing or going to find the song/artist I want manually. A library card holder receives 3 free downloads a week! I find that very cool. All you have to do is save it to your computer- and then drag and drop into itunes if you have an ipod. Its that simple- and it really is free! I have found some great learning songs by leapfrog for my 4 year old to learn days of the week. I also just got a couple holiday songs by Kenny G to put me in the Christmas mood while wrapping gifts. Did I mention this is free music? Really- if you think about it that is 12 free songs a month- 144 a year!

I heart our library :)

Drop on in to The Diaper Diaries for more Things people love this Thursday!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You're Welcome- a recipe to enjoy

I have found my new favorite holiday- ok anytime- sweet treat recipe. Love the mall cinnamon roasted almonds? Um, yes! Not exactly diet friendly, but at least it has more substance that cookies right?

So here is the homemade version (I had no idea it would be so easy, yummy- like where has this been all my life!)

You'll need:
16 oz bag of whole almonds
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add almonds and mix until they are all coated.

In a separate dish mix rest of ingredients. Add almonds and toss to coat.

Place in one layer in a jelly roll or baking pan (you may want to use parchment as these kind of leave a sticky mess, but my color glazed 9x13 did great, easy clean up!). Place in a preheated oven at 250 degrees. Bake for one hour, fifteen minutes. Every 20 minutes mix around and rearrange back into one layer. Let rest outside of stove for 5 minutes before eating. Store in an airtight container. Make great goody giveaways to friends/teachers/family etc.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review: Jungle Warfare

So, I'm not a salesperson, but I'm the wife of one. So, in efforts to help my husband with his business and to be (hopefully) an encouragement to him, I decided to read Jungle Warfare: A Basic Field Manual for Christians in Sales by Christopher Cunningham.

Adapted from his Grandfather's World War II era military issued "basic field manual on jungle warfare," Cunningham connects the strategies and thoughts demanded for combat in an unknown jungle land with the jungle that is life as a Christian, especially in the sales industry. With God as the ultimate Guide, the Christian salesperson is asked to prepare for battle on two fronts- spiritually and in the business realm. But really, they are connected. Cunningham's underlying tone is that when a person is spiritually growing, with God on the throne of his/her life, and eager to serve Him in whatever facet- then business success (though not always the way our earthly minds imagine it) will follow.

This 22 battle plan book was set up as a small devotional for the reader; with sections on part of the original war manual, a verse from our 'manual', thoughts from the author, then a series of questions and a prayer. I found the set up to be quick, simple, but choppy. I rarely found the connection between all of the components, and more often than not I found the material lacking cohesion or stretching the material to 'make it fit'. Following the 22 day plan were a list of popular questions that I believe a lot of business people, particularly men, ask with verses and a thought from the author as an answer. For example- does God care about my sales numbers or what do I do about success?

I found this book to be reminiscent of a 1 minute radio spot. The quick one line thoughts are good, but not very deep. The one minute radio spot may get you thinking, but often quickly move on to the next item at hand. With some further study, I believe Cunningham's thoughts on integrity in the business world, trusting God with our whole life- including our sales, learning to rest and be still, and the connection between being a person after God's heart first with the sales coming after are all good ideas, but I left feeling empty and wanting more. I felt as though I had heard the 'token devotional' before my Christian college classes. I did appreciate the sales person's creed based off of the American soldier's creed.

This book would work very well for quick devotionals in the business world or with a small group of men. It would allow for more open discussion and lead into further research in scripture of what God says about each the subjects. I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.