Thursday, August 23, 2007


Sometimes it is the little things that really warm your heart. Today each of our children in their own way have done that for me. This is such a tender age where they are so dependent and so impressionable. I'm trying to cherish it, savor it and remember it and not just get by with the day-to-day responsibilities of mothering and homemaking. We went out with some friends to fun new parks this morning and then headed to the Y for a bit. When I returned to pick up the kids from childcare, Smiley saw me and got very excited, headed straight for the gate as fast as he could by crawling, then stopped and stood up to try to walk to me. He took one step last night and is working hard to make that a new skill. After some lunch with Daddy we headed home and kids went down for naps and quiet time. Naps have not been really successful this summer with our little girl, but today she must have been tired enough. I went to check on her and found this. Sister was asleep on the floor with all of her "guys" spread out on the floor napping with her. She has learned this nurturing gesture from her big brother who often does the same for his "guys". Watching my children sleep is so sweet to me.

Also this afternoon, Sportster came down from quiet time and asked that I tuck him in. He is growing so much and wanting to be independent and grown-up, so I was happy to oblige him. Far too soon he will be grown up and will not ask for his mama's nurturing touch. I'm happy to give it now while he is young.

Because this post has been sappier than most and the boys have not yet been represented in photos, I thought I would end with this fun moment captured at home this morning. And yes, we are working on the sticking-out-the-tongue-for-the-camera issue, but that is just par for the course.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Laundry Line

One of the ways we have cut our energy bill recently is by drying most of our laundry outside. This is certainly not a new concept, but has its challenges when living in suburbia with a tiny backyard and not particularly wanting to air your laundry for the whole neighborhood to see. My solution was to loop ends of a clothesline rope around fence pickets at a diagonal. The laundry then hangs low enough to be out of view for the neighors. I placed our rope on the side of our house in a section of yard that is otherwise unused. With breezy and dry Colorado air, I am able to dry up to three loads per day this way. I think I paid $1 for the clothesline rope and a couple bucks for a few sets of clothepins several years ago. And I love how fresh this laundry feels and smells!
For more frugal ideas, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Let's Do This Again!

The last weekend of July we enjoyed good fellowship with some folks from our Sunday school community at Whitestar Campground in the San Isabel National Forest. This was our first camping trip since Sportster was about 9 months old. We were more prepared this time for cold nights and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We needed to remind ourselves from time to time that this was fun, though. I think this will become a yearly outing for our family.

We especially enjoyed Sunday morning worship at the edge of the lake with only mountains and forest in sight. Just before heading home we had the opportunity to try kayaking on the lake and now we have new items on our wish list.

Practical Baby Gift

I was recently invited to a baby shower for a friend having her third baby. Knowing that she is likely already set with baby gear and clothes, I was trying to think of some useful gift for her. I had the idea of fill a picnic basket with essentials to have on hand for changing the baby without needing to go to the baby's room to accomplish that task. I started with a thrifted picnic basket, sewed up a little basket liner and matching burp cloth, and filled the basket with diapers, wipes, a sample size diaper cream, hand sanitizer and the burp cloth. Hopefully this will be helpful for quick changes anywhere around the home.

Front Yard Makeover: Phase 1

In late June our great water district called a ban on all lawn watering. This combined with lots of heat and an already struggling lawn put us over the edge. We were tired of the fight to keep that lawn alive. Actually, it was my husband fighting the fight. We made our decision to tear out the front lawn and replace it with a low-water-need landscape, then headed out to Farm Med for July 4th. We returned to a lawn that was indeed dead and ready to be torn out. At this point the water district had obtained more water and was now allowing us to water twice a week, but our situation was really beyond restoration. So in the middle of July we set to work on our largest DIY project to date. Here are the before pictures, just to assure you that the lawn was beyond recovery. We tore out the sod by hand which proved to be hard physical labor, considering that our yard felt like cement as we dug. As we tore up the sod we realized why a lush lawn had not been possible. Apparently the builder of our home did little to no soil preparation as it seems the sod was laid directly on our sandy dirt. We removed the sod from all areas where river rock would be placed and rototilled the area where we would plant perennials and put down mulch. We covered the areas to be rocked with landscaping fabric and put down metal edging to divide mulched and rocked areas. The areas to be mulched were covered with newspaper for some level of weed control while allowing easy access for more plantings in the future. Here is some of the sod we pulled out. Disposal of the sod was difficult as we don't have a truck to haul this away. We posted it on Craig's List and had several no-shows. After a few weeks a neighbor down the street asked if he could have it to fill in his yard and we were relieved when we could again easily drive into the garage.
After hauling more than 8 tons of rock, installing more than 100 feet of metal edging, spreading 6 cubic yards of mulch, planting 7 bushes, 1 little tree and more than 15 perennials, here is the yard today. This completes our first phase. In the next year or two we would like to work on the section between the sidewalk and the street which is currently just plain rock and add more perennials throughout the yard. This project was and continues to be a lesson in patience as we wait for things to bloom, grow and fill in the space. I'm curious to see which plants will survive as many of them were the half-dead, half-price variety from area garden centers at big box stores.

I wish I could say this is the end of our major projects for the year, but that is not the case. Next up: the backyard patio.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Presence of An Old Friend

Since moving to Colorado more than seven years ago, I have felt a big void from the friendships left behind from our university days in British Columbia. I was fully blessed to have made some wonderful and lifelong girlfriends during the five years I lived there and while those friendships still carry on, it is hard not to have those women in my life on a day to day basis. Life goes on and I have great friends here in Colorado, too, but there is something about living in community with others during those carefree and vulnerable and fun university years that is really unique and a great climate for developing some really deep friendships.

Early in July we had a dear friend come with her little boy to visit for a few days. We were roommates for two years of university and have been friends for twelve years. It was so good to have her here, to remember old times, to count the blessings God has given us, to gain perspective on the present and just to really catch up. This visit was a balm to my weary soul.

Thanks for coming, my friend!

The 4th on the Farm

As is our custom, we headed out to Farm Med to celebrate the 4th of July with my family. The kids had a blast being with cousins for a couple days and we enjoyed our time there as well. We even managed to get away to the big city for a date to celebrate our 8th anniversary which included dinner and Starbucks.

A Penny Saved: Health & Beauty Aids

One of the ways we save is that we pay little to nothing for personal care items, except for diapers for the baby. Every month I take advantage of the free after rebate items available at Walgreens. If you opt to have your rebate in the form of an addition to your rebate gift card they also give you a 10% bonus. In time and with the use of coupons, the balance on the card grows and then I am able to use some of those funds for other good promotions that they are running on a weekly basis.
Today I was able to buy all of these items for the grand total of about $20.00 after a rebate, while getting over $105 worth of merchandise. Better yet, this money did not come out of our pockets, but from the gift card balance I had been contributing to since early this year. There is still a balance on the card that will provide for the free after rebate items available in the coming months. While we may not need these items immediately, they are relatively compact to store and stockpile until we do need them.
To make the best use of my time, I generally only go to the store once a month to take advantage of the rebate offers and sales and since we have started doing this I almost never need to add a health or beauty item to our regular grocery list. By shopping this way for these items I am getting items free or paying pennies on the dollar for products that are generally of a far higher quality than generics I would choose if we were shopping at Walmart for the same kinds of items.

A Penny Here, A Penny There

I was encouraged a few months ago to get together with some other moms to talk about some little things we do to save our families some money. It seems even discussing this topic or reading blogs or money articles spurs me on toward continuing the work of saving. I see part of my job as a stay-at-home-mom to be working on some little ways that save us money so that it is more feasible to be at home with our kids. If you don't mind, I'll post a few ideas of how I "go to work" at saving money for our family. As you work at establishing these thrifty spending habits it almost becomes second nature and the pay-offs are big. However, I never want to dismiss God's providence in this whole process.