simple mom: simple living for your kids

i just read this post from simple mom and thought i would share it.

i love the whole idea of simplifying your lifestyle, because it really does help and you and your children see the things that you have with more value.  additionally, you're not being wasteful with excess stuff.  you're not fostering (or nurturing) the whole consumerist mindset to your children.  and you're teaching them to be good stewards of the world they live in.

i like the 9 tips shared on the post.  in regards to the kids and "stuff," we try to minimize the amount of toys, gadgets, knick-knacks, etc. as best we can.  i found that the less stuff they have around, the more they actually use them.  and i've also noticed (mostly with emma) that the few items they have are used in many different ways.  the simpler the toy, the more versatile it is.  for example, a yard stick (we got free at a fair) is used as a sword, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner. 

since we have taken this "minimal" approach to emma's stuff for a while, i am thankful that she is very accepting (and not attached to any of it...except for her blankie) when we decide to purge some of her toys.  she seems truly satisfied with what she has, and doesn't seem to be attracted to all the "fancy" toys at the store when we go out (the only thing she really wants is the chocolate milk or the slushy at target).

we are hoping we can continue to model a simpler way of life so that our kids will learn to appreciate the things that they have and take care of the earth (with all of its resources) that God has provided them with.


wordless wednesday::hoot!

little owl onesie just listed on my shop.  original design by yours truly.  i'm not an artist by nature (though i like to doodle) so i was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.

thanks to my husband who gave me some very helpful constructive criticism...i appreciate your honesty (at least, in this case...ha!).

more wordless wednesday here and here.


top ten tuesday

i was pretty excited when we had a lovely "warm" front visit us last week (and my pocketbook was happy too since we could turn down the heat a bit).  it was actually bearable to go outside without having to put on my usual 8 layers.

but it was too good to be true.  i awoke to snow on the ground and a chill in the air.  on the plus side, there hasn't been any single digit temperatures...yet.  i'm hopeful that we can make it through this winter without having to deal with some bitter cold weather.

if your a big baby like me about the cold, then you might enjoy this weeks top ten.

top ten fun *indoor* things to do because it's too darn cold outside (kids optional):
  1. put on some music, crank up the volume and dance like you've never danced before. [this is a surprisingly good, energy burning work-out.]
  2. bake some tasty treats and then eat them all after wards.  [ha...i've never actually done the second part but there are days i am tempted to do so.]
  3. bust out some paints and butcher paper or large canvas and do a little abstract art. [this is a fun one to do with the kiddies too.  the best is if you strip them down, skip the paint brushes and have them use their hands to paint.]
  4. make a fort out of chairs and blankets. [hang out in your new fort with your kiddies, or your dog, or your cat, or all of the above.  enjoy a tasty snack while you're in there.]
  5. cuddle up on the couch and have a reading marathon. throw in a hot cocoa or a cup of coffee and a nice, warm blanket to complete the experience. [this is one of emma's favorite things to do.  she will bring down a stack of books and plant herself on the couch to "read" them all.]
  6. indoor bowling. [we picked up a kiddie bowling set from a thrift store and it's great fun to use...as long as no one is trying to nap.  if you don't have an indoor bowling set, use some old beer bottles or soda cans and a tennis ball.]
  7. get crafty. [pull out that sewing machine collecting dust in the corner.  or tackle a new knitting project.  or upcycle items you have around the house to create something new.]
  8. rearrange furniture or do a quick room makeover. [okay.  this may not be viewed as fun for some of you, but it's fun to rearrange stuff around the house.  gives the area a fresh look.]
  9. treasure hunt. [this one will require at least a partner.  if you have a dog that likes to sniff things out, like our crazy dog, then you can even do this activity with your pet.  of course, in that case, the hunted item should be food.  this is fun with the kids too.  draw a "map" of the house and see if they can follow the clues.]
  10. puzzles! [puzzles suck me in.  kind of like when you're playing a video game and you're so close to getting to the next level so you keep trying and trying until you get there.  but then you're so close to getting to the next level after that and so you keep trying and trying to get there...that's how i can get with puzzles.]

what are some of your favorite indoor activities?  please share!  we would love to try them out :).


remembering pregnancy: the miracle that is life

to tell you the truth, before i got pregnant i don't think i fully understood and appreciated the awesomeness of what it meant to create a living being.  i mean, i learned about how babies were made when i was in 5th grade (and 7th grade and high school health class).  and then again in a psychology class in college.  so i had a general idea.  and i remembered my mommy's belly growing when she was pregnant with my baby sister.  i had an idea of what it was all about...the basics, so to speak.

i would gather that most people are probably like me in regards to understanding the full knowledge of growing a baby.  and i suppose, unless you're an ob/gyn nurse, doctor, midwife or such there isn't really a need for the general public to know, in depth, the whole (the ins and outs, front to back, complete) pregnancy process.

then i got pregnant.

i'm one of those people that like to do research into whatever i'm currently into or planning on acquiring or participating in (i mean, i even do research on shoes i plan on purchasing if it's going to be a major expense).  i like facts and figures.  i don't care for people who make particular claims without backing it up with some numbers, data, facts, etc.  i guess that's just how i am.  perhaps that's a bit of high school/college education rubbing off on me. 

with my first pregnancy, i researched e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  i devoured all information i could get my hands on about childbirth, fetal development, labor and anything related to pregnancy and childbirth.  and there was A LOT of information out there.  some are more opinions than facts.  while others are plain, old, get to the point facts.  what i remember the most about my first pregnancy is learning all about the scientific process of a baby's growth in the womb, labor and childbirth and how amazed i was by the whole process.  my eyes were opened!  big time.

the growth of a baby inside the womb is truly a miracle.  3 weeks after conception (or 5th week of pregnancy) the heart is already working.  really?  wow.  at 5 weeks, i didn't know i was even pregnant.  and then there were little arms, feet, eyelids, the teeny nose and a detectable heartbeat 6 weeks after conception (or 8 weeks).  every week, i remembered being truly amazed.

and the fascination didn't stop with the first pergnancy.  i remember being just as fascinated with the whole process during our second and third pregnancies.  i loved getting the weekly fetal development e-mails, reminding me of the amazing growth taking place minute by minute, day by day.  needless to say, the loss of our baby 8 weeks into our second pregnancy really hit us hard, especially knowing all the little things that were happening inside of me at that time.  even though we never met each other, saying good-bye to our precious little one was hard.

each life is precious, with such an amazing journey even before he/she ever enters the world.  and now i have people around me that are expecting...preparing to add another member to their growing family. 


bacon salt

the first time i heard of bacon salt was about 3 years ago through not martha.

bacon salt originated from our old stomping grounds of seattle, wa.  and of course, they decided to come out with this wonderful idea *after* we moved away.  unless you lived in the area, the only way bacon salt would be made available to you was by placing an order through the internet. 

bacon salt is great, because even non-bacon (or meat) eaters can enjoy the intoxicating flavor of bacon since the ingredients are kosher and vegan.  now, if you do eat bacon, it doesn't exactly taste like a piece of bacon, but it's pretty close.  and it truly tastes great on everything: potatoes, eggs, asparagus, brocolli, pasta (yes...i even tried it on pasta).

and so, given our dwindling supply of bacon salt and not wanting to order anymore because we don't want to pay for shipping, you can imagine how delighted i was to find this product at the local supermarket the other day.

my heart skipped a beat, and i quickly snatched one up from the shelf!  and now i'm off to find something edible to go with my bacon salt.  better yet.  i'll take the no calorie approach and just sprinkle some on my hand and lick it off.


first baby steps: follow-up

earlier this month i shared with you our money management plans for 2010.

well, to be honest, stocking up $1,000 for our emergency fund has been slow going.  there are a lot of hurdles we need to overcome, which can be discouraging and keep us from being hopeful that baby step 1 is even attainable.  our monthly health insurance premium has gone up for 2010, which means our monthly income has decreased.  our one major credit card increased their rates (again!) for 2010 (ridiculous, i say), even though we have been very prompt with our payments.  our lakewood city tax is due at the end of this month.  our car tabs are due in the next few months.  and it keeps going and going.

but we're plugging away.  little by little.  any extra cash received we've been putting away as much as we can.  we've listed our debts (except for the house) and know which one to tackle first after step 1 is done.  we know that step 1 is attainable, and we know that following these steps is the best way for us to glorify God with His money.

i've taken the whole "commit to saving $1,000 as fast as possible" advice more seriously this time around and have been looking all over our house for stuff to sell (that's the primary reason i've been a bit MIA on here lately).  whether it's craigslist, ebay, amazon or resale shops, i'll go wherever they'll give me money :).

anyone need a kitchen sink?


craft hope for haiti

this was brought to my attention today by my sister-in-law

what is craft hope?
craft hope is a faith-based, love inspired project designed to share handmade crafts with those less fortunate.  It is our hope to combine our love for crafting and desire to help others into a project to make a difference around the world.
according to their most recent update, they have raised almost $10,000 from the sale proceeds of donated items.  amazing!  and there is so much more for sale.  so much in fact that they are no longer taking donations as of jan. 20th.  it has become an overwhelming task for these mamas in addition to maintaining and managing the regular craft hope site.

even if you can no longer donate an item, it doesn't mean you can't help.  their shop has a little something for everyone.  lots of beautiful, hand-crafted items.

and if you have a blog, pass along news about their shop by displaying their craft hope for haiti button on your site.

support hand-made and help others in need...what more can you ask for?

Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

top ten tuesday

tomorrow, my baby boy will be 8 months old.  how does this happen?  i know, i ask this over and over again.  but really, how does it happen?  thinking about the future, i don't know if i'm ready for him to be a year old yet.  stop, time!  not so fast.  i didn't get to completely soak up these past 8 months with him.  some of those little things have escaped me before i even had a chance to process them.

so before another month goes by, i need to stop and notate all the special moments.  before they're lost.  before they become a blur-a heavy haze, in my mind.  before i can no longer remember all the little details.

top 10 precious baby (gibson) moments:
  1. giggles and squeals of delight. [i just love listening to him laugh. it always brings a smile to my face.]
  2. gummy grins. [well, i suppose he's got some teeth now, but just the bottom two.  but gummy grins are so adorable!]
  3. pudgy baby hands that reach out for your face and stroke your cheek. [i love when he does this.  he's such a tactile baby.  the part i don't love is when he goes beyond stroking and grabs a chunk of your face and squeezes it in his hands.  ouch!]
  4. little birdie mouth and the one legged kick of anticipation before he nurses. [i remember emma did the same thing.  i know i'm just being mean by prolonging the nursing, but i love watching his leg kick when he knows he's close to meal time.  it cracks me up.]
  5. the look of delight and outstretched arms when he sees me walk into a room.  [aaahhh, if only that look will last forever.  i'm sure he'll be taking that back when he becomes a teenager.]
  6. sharing quiet time as he nurses. [i savor each moment of this because i know it won't last forever.]
  7. peaceful serenity in my arms as he sleeps. [before i put him in his bed, i love listening to his steady breathing, feeling the warm air against my cheek, smelling his sweet baby smell and looking at that sweet baby face.  so peaceful.  at that moment, i forget about everything else and remember just how gracious and loving God has been to me.]
  8. brotherly love. [what a happy face he makes when he knows his siblings are in the room.  he'll even stop nursing the minute he hears their voices so that he can search for them.]
  9. snuggle bug. [okay, so emma was not a snuggler.  ever.  well, maybe in the first month but that's it.  this boy, however, will rest his head on your chest, wrap his arms around you and just let you hold him close.  i am appreciating this right now since i know there will be a time where snuggle time will become few and far between.]
  10. daddy time. [i just love seeing babies with their daddies.  they have a special way of interacting with the little ones and it warms my heart.]
what are your favorite precious moments (does not have to be baby related)?


pat robertson, may i kindly interject...

i don't know why God allows terrible things to happen.  i don't know why He allows us to loose someone we dearly love.  i don't know why He allows people to hurt or suffer. but i do know that He is faithful.  i know that He is good.  and deep in my heart i do know that He is always in control.

when a tragedy of this magnitude happens, i know that my faith in the Lord is strengthened by the example of people around the world coming together to help.  His love shines through when complete strangers are willing to go out of their way to offer aid to a country devastated by disaster. i find it amazing that people can come alongside each other to help, when any other day they may not get along.

fedex is sending thousands and thousands and thousands of palettes of food to haiti.  american airlines is offering free flight to haiti for doctors and medical workers.  people are donating what they can to international aid agencies.  His love for all His people is very clear to me.

i don't really care to waste my time focusing on the contorversial comments being said about this tragedy, because i think it detracts from what we should be focusing on.  there are people that need your help.  share God's love and honor Him by focusing your time in praying for the haitans, and for the people that will be going out there to help.  focus your time in doing what you can to help.


top ten tuesday

brrrr.  it's cold.

 i don't like being cold.  my asian body is not meant to be in this type of weather.  if i could i would hibernate until spring.  in the summer i like to keep the thermostat at 78 if i could (but everyone else seems to have major sweating issues).

so during these cold winter months, i often like to cook lots of warm-your-tummy, comfort food type meals.  you know, those meals that warm the entire house.  with comforting smells that permeate every nook and cranny of your home.  i suppose that is one of the nice things about winter...

top 10 favorite cold weather dinners:
  1. pot roast
  2. beef stew
  3. potato leek soup (but i also add corn and bacon)
  4. chicken dumpling soup (homemade dumplings are the best!)
  5. chili with lots of shredded cheddar cheese and cornbread
  6. shrimp bisque (you can do lobster if you're feeling extra fancy.)
  7. meat loaf with mashed potatoes and green beans
  8. grilled cheese and tomato soup
  9. opor ayam with rice (you can find out what this one is here.)
  10. black bean soup/santa fe soup (i don't have an official title for this one because this one we threw together based on a soup a friend made for us.  she calls it santa fe soup.)
let me know if you are interested in any of the recipes.  i might be able to share it with you if i can figure out the precise amounts we use for each ingredient.

got any comfort foods you tend to gravitate towards during the cold months?


    christmas crafts

    since i knew we would be busy in december, we didn't do a letter of the month but did do a few christmas related crafts instead.

    we learned about the poinsettia plant and found lots of them at the grocery store.  we then read the legend of the poinsettia and made a poinsettia fan found here.  the fan was an excellent accessory used while she danced to christmas music.

    we then moved on to creating a christmas lapbook using most of the content from this christmas tot pack.  if you're not familiar with lapbooks a basic tutorial can be found here.  another great resource for lapbook ideas/inspiration is the member forum from lapbook lessons.  there are plenty of other lapbook resources out there.  just google "lapbook" or "lapbook tutorial."  i am in love with lapbooks ever since i first discovered them.  what a great learning tool for kids of all ages.  even ty was intrigued with the lapbook concept.  personally, i think he would be one to benefit using lapbooks as a learning tool, but they don't do that at his school.

    we used the happy birthday J is for jesus for the cover, and picked out a few other printables to put in the lapbook.  i broke down the activities to span over the course of a week so that we didn't feel rushed to get it all done in one day. 

    we also added a few st. nicholas related items to the lapbook.  since we brought ol' st. nick into the christmas celebration this year, it was important to us that she understands (or at least is introduced to) the history behind santa claus (without losing the "magic") so that he does not become the central focus of our chirstmas celebration (i will not go into this too much, though it was briefly addressed here).  we visited the st. nicholas center and read a couple of stories from there (i would recommend pre-reading them first to make sure they're appropriate for your kids).  then we printed out the st. nicholas day poem and the paper doll printable to complete the lapbook.

    like some of the sites i linked to, i do recommend printing out the activities on cardstock or laminating them so that they're more durable.  the activities printed from the first lapbook we made were done on regular paper and it didn't have that lasting power (though it's still being used).  this lapbook was a hit not only with emma (3 years) but with ty (12 years) and our neighbor friend, sam (5 years).


    wordless wednesday::the eagle has landed

    a family "tradition" of passing the eagle.  can't you tell the genuine look of excitement on her face?

    more wordless wednesday here and here.


    top ten tuesday

    got a mound of dirty laundry waiting to be washed?  or how about stacks of dirty dishes in your sink?  or maybe you've got a massive test you have to study for?  a big project due?  well what better way to get it done than procrastinate!

    top 10 ways to procrastinate (you know...prolong, delay, put off the inevitable):

      1. facebook stalk. [it's imperative that i'm up to date on everyone's statuses and comment on every single photo i come across.]
      2. take up a sudden interest in crosswords, word search or sudoku. [that big book of sudoku puzzles collecting dust in the corner has suddenly become the prime focus of your day.]
      3. research "pertinent" information regarding all your pending tasks on the internet. [i need to look up all the eco-friendly tips on laundering my clothes.  way to rationalize internet surfing.]
      4. play video games. [we actually don't own a game system at home, but if we did i know what i would be doing.  and there are many ways to rationalize this particular choice, especially if we owned the wii fit.]
      5. read a good book. [it's not really procrastinating when you're reading something, right?  after all, we encourage our kids to read...]
      6. re-organize all the cook books and miscellaneous recipes. [alphabetizing the recipes takes importance over having clean clothes for the whole family.]
      7. organize all your photos uploaded on the computer. [again, this takes importance over having clean clothes for the whole family.]
      8. purge and re-organize the kids' clothes, books and toys.  [still being productive here, right?]
      9. escape to the bathroom. [this is ty's favorite stall tactic when he has to do his homework.  you can't stop a guy from doing his business in the bathroom...nevermind that he's in there for 15-20 minutes.]
      10. snack time. [this is ty's stall tactic number 2, which he deploys shortly after emerging from the bathroom.]

      what about your favorite stall tactics?


      simple mom : financial baby steps 1 and 2

      thinking about the fact that we owe money makes me feel sick.  that debt on our credit card.  that loan we had to take out so that we could do some maintenance on the house and the car.  sick, sick, sick. 

      and i get frustrated.  frustrated that when it seems we're almost to the home stretch, something happens that requires us to spend an abnormal amount of money to fix, maintain, etc.  frustrated because that the money we're using to pay off our debt could have been used to help somebody in need.  frustrated that the interest we pay every month is money wasted.  [insert sarcasm here] what a way to be great stewards of God's money.

      so, after unsuccessfully following through on david ramsey's seven baby steps last year, we are making another attempt this year.  simple mom has posted a great guide to david ramsey's plan here, focusing today's post on baby steps 1 and 2.

      ready.  set.  go.


      christmas in the new year : II

      this was our second year celebrating christmas at gram and pap's on new year's day.  we enjoyed (much to our surprise) some pierogies for lunch, opened gifts in front of the fire, and played a fun-filled game of apples to apples.

       we really enjoy this newly established new year's day tradition, because it extends the holiday celebration beyond christmas.  thank you family for all your generous gifts!
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