September 29, 2008

Matthew West CD giveaway!

I love Matthew West's music! He has a fresh contemporary Christian style. Give it a listen!

A little while ago I won his cd from a local radio station. I've never won anything before so I was really excited.

Now I want to share that same joy of winning with you. I'm giving away my Matthew West cd to one lucky winner! Why am I giving this away - well I already owned most of the songs from itunes :)

All you have to do is leave a comment below to be included in the draw. I will draw on Friday, October 10th at 8:30am Good Luck!

Like Mother, like Daughter

It's no secret that I love to scrapbook. My 8 year old, Sara, is a little artist too. There is nothing she loves more then staying busy creating. The challenge with creating so much is keeping all those special creations safe and organized.

Last week I wrote about teaching your child how to keep their room clean. For Sara, that also means not letting her art work get out of control.

What can you do with your child's art work?

Sara came up with the idea of a rotating scrapbook. She keeps her drawings in protective sleeves then in a 3 ring binder. How Simple!

What do I mean by rotating? Well, we switch them out once in a while. Sometimes, with the ones we are taking out we mail them to Grandmas - she loves stuff like that!

We also have a rotating wall picture holder that I purchased at Lillian Vernon. This would also be great for a teenager. There are lots of pockets where kids can store their favorite photos. This online store has some great storage ideas for kids.

Sara also loves to journal. Sometimes she doodles and sometimes she writes poetry. She loves to collect notebooks. I bought this simple magazine holder at target. How pretty!

I love to encourage my children to be creative. I just want them to be neat while doing it :)

Should we Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas has become so far removed from Christ that it makes me wonder how should we celebrate it - or should we even celebrate it?

I know what you are thinking - of course we should celebrate Christmas! But should we? I know this post will go against the grain for a lot of Christians.

But read on...

I believe we should always go to our bible when we have questions of how to live our lives. I believe God's written word provides us with everything we need to live a life that glorifies Him and allows us to enjoy Him forever.

My question is: Where in the bible does it tell us to celebrate the birth of Jesus?

There is no mention in the bible to celebrate His birth. (correct me if I'm wrong here) However there is mention in the bible to celebrate his death. Jesus says in Luke 22:19b This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Jesus requires us to celebrate what He did for us - dying on the cross. We do this during The Lords Supper.

So the bible does not answer me - How should I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - or should I at all?

I'm pretty sure the Lord doesn't want me to study the toy wish book from various retailers. I know he doesn't want me to go into debt buying the latest toys for my children, but does He not desire praise from us for the wonderful awesome gift of His Son? Does He want us to celebrate Christmas?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

September 28, 2008

Great Posts of the Week

I just had to share these...

Choose your commitments
- The timing of reading this post was just ironic for me.

Funny customer service stories - this site cracks me up!

Yummy! Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars I'm going to have to try these!

I've never thought about buying these. I'm going to have to see if I can get them too!

The battle of the churches.

I made these gingerbread cupcakes last night. So good! Your kitchen will smell like fall! Just don't do what I did - when making the frosting I used white sugar rather then icing sugar. Duh! It didn't take too long to make a new batch.

And finally this is a post that some of us may want to read. I'm not going to say any more then that!

September 26, 2008

Makes CENTS to Me!

I received the following email today... it looks like a good idea! If you can see a flaw in this guys plan let me know!

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG and all the others.
Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in
a We Deserve It Dividend.
To make the math simple, lets assume there are 200,000,000
bona fide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman
and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a
We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.
So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.
That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.
A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Pay off your mortgage, housing crisis solved.
Repay college loans, what a great boost to new grads
Put away money for college, it'll be there
Save in a bank, create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
Buy a new car, create jobs
Invest in the market, capital drives growth
Pay for your parents' medical insurance, health care improves
Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean, or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks
who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company
that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of
trickling out a puny $1 000.00 ("vote buy") economic incentive that is being
proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every
adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG, liquidate it.
Sell off its parts.
Let American General go back to being American General.
Sell off the real estate.
Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can never work.

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion
We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in
Washington DC .

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because
$25.5 Billion is returned
instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.


This morning you asked for a carrot - a long one. (you like to eat them like bugs bunny) You then said "just don't make it hairy" - "you mean you want it peeled?" - "yes please"

September 25, 2008

Studying for Christmas

Every year the Christmas season seems to come earlier and earlier. I believe it's still on the 25th of December, right? Then why did I get a Christmas catalog in the middle of September?!

Last week we received in the mail a toy catalog from Kmart. My kids have been studying it like it was the bible and they knew the date of Jesus return! They've circled things, categorized things and told me again and again how much they need these things. Elijah keeps saying, "let's go buy it!"

It's time I stood on my soapbox and screamed ENOUGH!

I'll admit it - each year, on some level, I do get sucked into the marketing of Christmas. I love the lights, the tree and how people seem to turn around and have a heart to give. How can I make this year different and still special?

It's time to start thinking about Christmas - how do I want to celebrate? Sure, we will still celebrate at church and participate in the church Christmas play. I mean beyond that. How will I celebrate? How will I weave in my new frugal lifestyle?

One thing I know for sure - this toy catalog is going in the recycling today... and every other one that comes in my mailbox this year!

Do you plan to celebrate differently this year?

September 24, 2008

It's still Me!

I've changed the look of Letters to Elijah - those green dots were driving me crazy! Only the look changes. The eclectic posts will remain :) I hope you enjoy it.


September 23, 2008

Teaching Your Kids how to Clean their Room

My daughter, Sara, is 8 - which means she has a lot of stuff or treasures (as she calls it) or junk (as I call it). Keeping a child's room clean can be challenging.

We would all want our little girls room to look like this:

and we don't want it to look like this:

I'm trying to compromise and find middle ground.

Set some standards for your child's room. Let them know what you require them to do before they start their day. For Sara, her bed is to be made and no clothes on the floor.

Once a week - teach them to dust and vacuum. A little girl loves to sprinkle carpet deodorizer. You can even make some home made stuff together.

Tackle the paper! Kids consume a lot of paper. Whether it be art projects from school or crafting at home we always have plenty of paper! Have one storage unit for paper projects. Once its full - they have to take something out before having more. Encourage your child to make a scrapbook of their art work. You can also take pictures of your child with their project so they can see if forever (but this way you won't have to keep all of it).

Label it! Sometimes I think kids don't do well cleaning their rooms because they just don't know where their stuff goes! Solution: label it. Label their drawers ie. tshirts, socks, underwear, etc. If your child doesn't know how to read yet label it with a photo.

Keep up with Seasons Twice a year the parents & kids together should go through clothes that no longer fit and toys that are no longer played with to donate to friends or charity. This step is a must - if this is not done things will get out of control. This week alone I donated Barbie puzzles that are meant for a 3-5 year old.

Don't let them leave the room! I'm not saying lock them in their room silly- Just don't let them out of their room until the room is clean. Kids can get distracted so quickly if they leave the room while cleaning. I've taught Sara to create piles while cleaning: garbage, donate, and to be put into a different room pile. Keeping them in their room will get the job done quicker!

When all else fails: Inspire them. For some kids cleaning a real messy room can be overwhelming. Help your kids. While at school clean their room for them. It's much easier to keep a tidy room clean then to start from scratch with a messy one.

How about your kids? Is their room clean or messy right now?

September 22, 2008

The 10th Commandment

I openly admit I'm a sinner - saved by faith by the blood Jesus Christ, through the grace of God. The 10 commandments are a hard bunch of rules for man to live by. I go through waves of issues I deal with in regards to following God's commandments. There is one, however, that is consistently difficult: The 10th Commandment.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

I ask you this: what is the difference between coveting and admiring? For me it's a real thin line.

front view

About a 1/2 a mile away this beautiful house is being built. I drive past it almost daily. If I was to build my dream home.. this would be it. I love the stone, the windows and angle the garage is to the rest of the home.

back view

At what point does coveting occur? When you don't want the owners to have what you want? or when you are just not happy or even content with what you already have? Something to chew on today. I know and understand that my life here on earth is only temporary compared to eternity with our Heavenly Father... It amazes me how deep my sinful nature can be.

September 19, 2008

It's just about that time!

What color are your leaves?

Do you love to travel to see the fall colors? There is a great web site for residents of Wisconsin to know when the colors are at their peak.

Not from Wisconsin...try one these sites:

Ontario, Canada

Get out there and enjoy the season!

September 18, 2008

Dear John Letter

My 8 year daughter Sara wrote this letter to her brother John - who is currently in Navy Boot Camp.

I did not change anything in this letter - grammar or spelling.

Dear John, this is from Sara. I am feeling good. My finger nail came of. Mom cepet the nail. And we have a new baby siter it's Araca are nexst store naber. And did you now that on your old cumputer you can wach tv on it?
from Sara

Sara drew a happy face.

So I need to work on her spelling - but how sweet!

September 17, 2008

Pssst... free coupon offer

A few weeks back I joined a web site called Pssst. It's a General Mills site that sends out full size samples and coupons. They ask for your feedback via email.

Today I received 32 oz size of Progresso Chicken Broth. (it arrived via UPS - that must of cost big bucks!)

If you are interested in a $1.25 off coupon (expires 3/2/09 - only need to buy one) please leave me a comment and I'll get one to you in the mail!

Does anyone have any good recipes for me to use this?

September 16, 2008

This is just Cool!

What a great way to show you love Christ in a BIG way! Seeing this has to make you smile:) It did me!

September 15, 2008

Back to School = Germs + Other Nasty Stuff!

If this is your first year having a child in school it could mean some sick days. Schools can be big germ incubators! Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and washing their hands often can be a great doses of preventative medicine.

Sometimes no matter what you do your kids just bring home nasty stuff.

Two years ago Sara brought home a note saying someone in her class had head lice. Gross! The note suggested for us to check our kids. The moment I checked her hair there they were... gross!! (Man, my head is just itchy writing this post! is yours now too?) I ran to the closest drug store and pretty much bought all the head lice removal stuff I could get my hands on. Whew - that's a lot of work. There are shampoos, special combs, creams and sprays. It's all pretty expensive too. However, you don't really care when your child has bugs crawling on their head.... unless.... they don't work. The next morning - they were back! Double Gross!

I called the school and here is what the nurse suggested: Full Fat Mayonnaise! Yes, Full Fat Mayonnaise! One cup of mayo and wrap the head for 1 hour (I did it for 2 hours - I wanted those bad bugs gone!) Guess what? it worked!! Gone, never to be seen again!

So if you ever have the nasty experience of head lice don't run out and spend all your money - just go to your kitchen cupboard instead.

September 13, 2008

Dear Elijah

Today was your first day of preschool! We've been talking about it all summer. You seemed pretty excited - then you found out you didn't get to take a school bus like your sister, Sara.

This morning when I asked if you were excited about starting school. You said NO. You said you didn't want to go today, that you will go next week. (your concept of time is very funny - it's either 9 o'clock or it's in 1 week)

At first you didn't want to go to school.

Once you got to school, however, you got pretty excited.

When I came to pick you up at the end you were very happy. You said you had lots of fun and the favourite thing you did was dancing. That's my boy!

September 12, 2008

Learning by getting Messy!

Yesterday Eli played a messy version of the classic "Hide & Seek". I took some small toys and hid them - I cover them with whipped cream. (I had tons of whipped cream left over from John's party and it would just go to waste)

oh the anticipation!

and yes, we did find all 7 toys

Lovin' this game Mom!

The results: some messy fun!

September 11, 2008

Wow, that's BIG!

I don't take a multi-vitamin. But everyone says I should.

A few weeks back I ordered a free sample of Nature-Made "multi for her" I received a 2 weeks supply. I figure I will give this a try. Try it for 2 weeks and see how I feel after I stop taking it. If I notice a difference maybe I'll start taking a daily mulit-vitamin - maybe even the brand that I'm trying.

I open up the bottle this morning - excited that I'm starting to try to take better care of myself . Shock.. holy cow! Look at the size of these things! Am I just weak or is this normal? It took me two tries to swallow this pill. I gagged the first time.

Compare the size of this pill and a penny.

Since this was a trial size bottle I assumed that Nature Made would want my opinion on these vitamins. I called the 1-800 number from the back of the bottle. I suggested why not split the pill (you can't cut this - it's a liquid softgel) and have the consumer take two pills a day. They made me seem like I was the minority. Nature Made said that the consumer would rather take one horse pill then two pills a day.

Well I guess I won't be buying those...

Do you take a multi vitamin? Is it a horse pill?

September 9, 2008

One Car Family

Effective Wednesday, Sept 3 we became a one car family. So how has our life changed?

Today was really the first day that had a huge impact. Today I needed the car. Up until today I stayed at home with Elijah during the day with no car. I was actually impressed that I wasn't bothered to have no wheels. I just kept thinking of all the money I was saving.

Being a one car family means being organized - not something my husband would say I'm good at. For me, being organized means writing to do lists.

Here is what I did today:

-took Jim to work w/ kids
-got Sara ready for school - and on the bus by 8:11am
-usual morning routine
-went to ShopKo Express to print pictures needed for Eli's preschool
-CVS shopping
-gas and washed the car
-went to library to return books
-went to local Christian radio station to claim my prize that I won :)
-returned home -made lunch
-usual afternoon cleaning
-went to Eli's preschool open house
-drove home to pick up Sara from the bus (and to quickly get changed into my work clothes)
-immediately left to pick up Jim from work w/ kids
-Jim dropped me off at work on the way home
-worked 5-10pm

Wow, what a day! I don't like busy days. Usually my days are much simpler!

So how was your day? busy? or simple?

Paint is Awesome!!

Kitchen Before: First time painting my kitchen. I hated the stenciled border when we moved into the house back in 2003
Kitchen After: my kitchen with a fresh sage colour (next summer I hope to tackle the cupboards)

Front Hallway Before: nasty wall paper and 70's paneling.
Front Hallway After: paint with a bright hay colour. (we also have a new front door, transom window and light fixture - someday the floor with come too)

Before Bathroom: nasty 80's wallpaper
Bathroom Before: that wall paper took forever to take off!!!
Bathroom cupboards before and after: have to love paint!

Bathroom After: love the new colour!

September 8, 2008

Dear Elijah


You are a picky eater times 2!

Earlier in the summer it was lunch time and you were hungry. Sadly, I had no idea what to feed you. Oh, I had some great ideas but none that I felt confident that you would eat.

A light bulb went off in my head. Out of desperation comes the invention of the circle cheese sandwich! You watched me make it and even helped.

Circle Cheese Sandwich Recipe

2 slice of fresh white "squishy" bread
1 processed cheese slice
1 t butter

Butter 2 slices of bread. Place processed cheese in between. Use Pampered Chef's cut-n-seal to complete the presentation. If at all possible sneak in 1 or 2 carrot sticks for nutrition. Enjoy!

Since my brilliant discovery we have also developed the Triangle Cheese Sandwich. Eli, I am happy that you are learning your shapes as a bonus :)

I wonder if other Moms out there have picky eaters like you. How do they get their kids to eat a good variety of foods.

September 6, 2008

Eli-isms from Walt Disney World

To my sister, Shawn-Marie, while jumping on the hotel bed:

"I want breakfast in bed!"

Conversation with my Mother at Hollywood Studios Park:

Eli: When are we going to Disney World?
Grandma: Honey, we are at Disney World!

Eli: But where's the castle? (to a 3 year old boy - it's all about the castle at Magic Kingdom)

September 5, 2008

Advice for Visiting Walt Disney World

Awards Edition
part 4 of a 4 part series

Here is where I hand out some fun awards on my trip to Walt Disney World

Best 3D Movie Award- Disney has lots of 3D Movies at each park. My a favorite goes to Mickey's PhilharMagic . This movie is just plain fun with all your favorite Disney characters, staring my favorite - Donald Duck. Some of the 3D Movies at Disney can be a little scary for little ones and some adults - this one is just fun!

Best Table Service Meal Award - there are over 100 restaurants at Disney World so this award is a little biased since I'm basing it on just the 5 table service meals that I had. Considering food, service and atmosphere the award goes to The Coral Reef, located at Epcot. And I don't like seafood!! I had the steak - and it was the best I've ever had! Wow! The atmosphere is fun and relaxing.

Best Quick Service Meal Award- there are lots of choices here - but I loved (shockingly) the cafeteria style quick service at our resort, All Star Movies. They had a huge selection of food. There is something for everyone! They are open from 5am till midnight! We ate the phillycheese steak sandwich, make your own salad, spaghetti w/ meatballs. For breakfast we ate waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, eggs - the list goes on. It was a little busy there - but they are very organized.

Best Family Ride Award - Kali Rapid Rivers This is the only thing we did at Disney twice it was fun - but we also got soaking wet and we were hot! Why the family ride award? because we all loved it, including my 66 year old mother, a typical 15 year old teenager and my 3 year son. That's a hard crowd to please :)
Kali Rapid Rivers gets a second award too! Best line-up deception award! The line-up winds you through beautiful rooms that make you feel you are in Nepal. They deceive you thinking you are almost at the front of the line - then.. you are in another room. Overall - the wait was so worth it!
Here are some of the photos while we were in the "line-up of deception". This just gives you a small idea of the deception.

While in line I even learned that I could take movies on my camera! I will obviously need more practice but wanted to share with all of you.

Cutest Eli Moment Award - Experiencing Eli with a monster size rainbow sucker - and then falling asleep with it stuck to his shirt. Boy, he loved that sucker!

Overall Award - this was easy - hands down - Disney Transportation! Once we arrived at Orlando airport we easily found the Disney buses. Within 10 minutes we were on a bus ride to Disney. Big comfy seats! Our luggage was delivered inside our room within hours of our arrival (pack your bathing suit in your carry-on!). At our resort there were multiple bus stops to to take us to all the parks. I was easily able to bring my stroller onto all the buses.

It was the trip back to the airport on our last day that I was most impressed. When I woke up, hanging on my door were myboarding passes to the plane. They couldn't make things easier. I brought my luggage down to the bus loading area. They checked my bags right there - at the resort! No line up at the airport!
Coming both to and from the airport great movies are played on the buses.

Disney - you have this transportation thing all figured out! As Eli would say, "that was awesome!"

Disney was a fun (but tiring) trip. We have some great memories.
Thanks Grandma for a great trip - it really was a trip of a lifetime!

September 4, 2008

Do you always proof read?

My kids loved the play area at the Milwaukke airport! It was great for them to have a chance to exercise before getting on a plane.

This sign was posted in the play area. I'm not the best speller in the world and I don't proof-read what I write as often as I should. However, when posting a sign in a public area proof read before sending it to the sign shop.
required is spelled with a q not a g :D
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Advice for Visiting Walt Disney World

Advice for being Frugal in Disney World
Part 3 of a 4 part series on my trip to Disney

Yes, I just put the words frugal and Disney in the same title! Disney is a world of temptation - spending can get out of control very quickly. However, I have put together a few tips to save you a few coins.

1/ All Star Resorts Boy, has Disney changed since I was there last - back in the early 80's. There are numerous resorts on the property! Prices can be as high as $1,140 per night! But don't give up so soon - introducing All Star Resorts - prices start at $82 per night. We stayed at the All Star Movies and loved it!!

2/ Souvenir Cups - $12.49 As soon as you get to your resort grab one of the great souvenirs! Refill with your favourite beverage (soda, coffee, tea, hot chocolate) all through your stay. Cut costs down by sharing one :) The only con to these cups is you can only refill them at a resort not at the parks.

3/ Free Souvenir Buttons 1st time to Disney? Stop off at City Hall and get a free button! They also give away buttons if it's your birthday or part of a grand gathering (6 or more in your party), or celebrating an anniversary! Loving the free stuff!

4/ Disney Dining Plan - This is not just frugal - it will actually make your vacation more enjoyable! Currently, with the dining plan you get one snack, one counter service (order your food, then find a seat) and one table service meal (sit down with a waiter) per day. Trust me, I LOVE to eat and this is more then enough food!! Drinks and dessert are also included in your meals. You will save 30% by purchasing the dining plan. This plan will also buy you freedom! Freedom to order what you want with not looking at the price - now that's a real vacation!
if you have any questions on the Disney Dining Plan please leave me a comment - I know this thing like the back of my hand!

5/ Disney Transportation - Transportation frugal? You betcha! There is NO need for a rental car when you stay at a Disney resort. A Disney bus picked us up at the airport in Orlando. Buses run all the time between the resorts and parks. A bus then takes you back to the airport. No worries! - and the best part? it's all free! Just think - you saved on the rental car, gas and parking! Loving it!

toy version of the Disney buses - great souvenir for $7.95

6/ You want it? Ask for it! Overall, the employees at Disney seem to have one mission - make sure you are impressed with their service. Maybe I was just lucky - but every time I asked for something I pretty much got it. (cool!)

Here are a few examples:
The cash register wasn't working right when my sister went to buy a bottle of water so the employee gave it to her.
The day before we checked out we asked if they could take the fridge back that was in our room (it was $10 per day rental) the lady said it was no problem but that she would just leave the fridge there and not charge us.
I didn't want dessert for my lunch - so I was given an extra beverage (bottles of orange juice normally sell for $2.69 each!)

Being at Disney World can easily be a drain on your wallet! It doesn't have to be. Don't let your frugal habits go on vacation too!

Did you go on vacation this summer?

September 3, 2008

Will we survive?

Just a few moments ago we privately sold our van. Our large driveway sits empty waiting for my husband to arrive home with our only car from work.

We are now a one car family.

Two thoughts come to my head:
1/ Wow, we are going to save a lot of money! Yeah! We had a 2006 Saturn Relay minivan - our payments were almost $400/month plus insurance. All that money is going to help pay off our debt.
2/ Wow, we only have one car! If I want the car during the day I need to drive Jim to work. I NEED to get more organized.

This is going to be a big transition.

We are open to maybe getting a second car again - we want to try and see how this works for us.
Does your family only have one car?

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