He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair. ~Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Good thing this is a journal/hobby type thing, because my posting is sporadic at best and quite random when it does happen! I want to keep up with life lately with my posts, so I present to you... February. According to Instagram.

If you know us in real life or you've been following this little blog for the last year or so, you know we're missionaries in training. The organization we're with has missionary families raise their own funds in a way of growing a real, integrated support team who will be personally invested in the mission through prayer and monetary donations. Suffice it to say, our mission to the Celtic People of the British Isles has been met with curiosity but not a lot of support! As in, we're still below 10% of our budget needs after 10 months of fundraising! That's a record low. 

Anyway, we met someone last fall who works for the Outlook, a paper for this region of our church that is sent to all members living in the Midwest (approximately 30,000). We were asked to write an article on how we plan to reach out to our new friends in the British Isles and it was published this month! We're super excited to be printed and hope our ideas can be used by others in their sphere of influence too. Here's a link to the online article if you're curious.

While we're on the topic of our mission, Gary was asked to present in the Beginner's class at church. These kiddos are 3-5 years old. Gary did a great job telling them a story about a prayer that was answered and relating how the kids we're going to be living near (showing where on the map, yes, he looks like a pirate!) don't know about Jesus and how He answers prayer, so what should we do? A little boy shouted out, "We need to go tell them!!!" Loved that moment!

We've had a touch of illness lately. I love the empathy my older and youngest son are showing their brother when he didn't feel well! Jared napped on and off and didn't eat anything I can remember, slept really well that night and was back to his rambunctious self by morning!

Jonathan is WAY into space shuttles and rockets. He builds small lego shuttles that are quite accurate looking. These with large legos don't look so much like the real thing, but he likes that the boosters explode when they're detached after launching. What boy wouldn't? Jonathan took these pictures with my cell phone, chose the background color and added the "stickers" on the app too. 

This little goofball calls himself "Jos-iah". His name for me today is "Jos-mommy". Can't get any cuter! Another cute Jos-iah-ism happened at supper:

Daddy to Josiah: I love you!
Josiah to Daddy: I love you too!
Josiah to Mommy: I love Daddy. And I love YOU. And I love chips.

Wow, I'm right up there with chips!

Jonathan loves to volunteer at Sabbath School. Which made me realize he's older and bigger than all the other kids in that class. (We were visitors for a long time, the boys wanted to be together, we compromised on the 3-5-year-old class.) So I promptly promoted him to a more age-appropriate class. After building it up, of course. He's so brave and getting so big! He brings his Bible and does his lesson and memorizes his scripture and just can't wait to see his new friends and do crafts! This picture was from his last week in the younger class.

We were invited to go hiking with friends at Schramm State Rec Area. It's about an hour away and it was quite a little jaunt through the muddy woods, but we all had fun. It was good to get out, good to have new friends, good to get some sunshine and exercise!

There's a long story behind why I was drilling things in my room, and you probably will never hear all of it. But soon I'll actually show you our room and the story might unfold itself. Meanwhile, I'm that mom who lets her 6 year old play with her drill. How else is he gonna learn? :) Jonathan made a cross. And colored it with crayons and markers. And played with it for a couple days before propping it on his headboard where it still lives. 

We're still homeschooling! It's a little touch-and-go, depending on how many kids I'm watching on a given day. And the weather. This day we did a few activities with their little friend. Lately it's been warm enough to let them play outside, so we're making up for all the days trapped inside during the winter!

Speaking of homeschooling, I was invited to be a guest blogger on a friends homeschool blog! I'll let you know more about it when I post my first blog.

This day was hard. Lesson learned. I had seven kids under age 7. Never again.

May I just observe, by the way, that my Instagram use has gone down? Yeah, we're home most days and I'm caring for other people's kids, and when I think about taking pictures it's bad lighting or the moment is gone, or I just want to be IN the moment and not step back and document it all! How about you? How do you find balance in what to document? Cell phones and Instagram/Facebook have made it easier to capture moments, but have they made it better?

I'm gibsongirl726 on Instagram and I'd love to follow you!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Omaha Zoo

We did something fun this weekend! We invested in our family and bought a zoo membership! We're about an hour away from the Omaha Zoo and decided it was worth the $95 to get a year pass for our family. We're so glad we did!

The weather was just beautiful, so we enjoyed our first day that felt like spring in sweatshirts while walking around outside!

The first exhibit we saw was the IMAX.

Gary and I loved the documentary about the Canadian Railroad through the Rockies, but Josiah and Jared spent quite a bit of time with their ears and eyes covered! Poor guys. Jonathan liked it though. I think it was just how loud and big everything was. We're looking forward to seeing the Penguin and Africa movies at the IMAX theater in future visits.

After taking a quick look at our map, we decided to hit the exhibits on the bottom section and save the ones farther out for another time. That's the beauty of getting a pass! (Oh, the IMAX was covered in our pass too.)

We walked through the bear exhibit--there were black bears and a polar bear, but the sun was bright and they were on the other side of some glass windows which made pictures not look great.  I'm not sure any picture of this Sun Bear would be flattering, poor thing!

We also saw the large cats; jaguars, Siberian tigers, lions and lion cubs. But again, they were behind glass lit up by the sun, and we were inside a building, so no pictures!

Then we ate lunch. The plan was to bring sandwiches and "supplement" with something extra bought at the zoo. This area was the one complaint we had! They sold hot dogs, mini pizzas, and popcorn, and that's about it! The mini pizzas were $6! We shared a tub of popcorn and promised next time to pack more goodies from home!

 Next we walked through the gorilla house and the orangutan house.

The primates are always fun to watch! Some of them really were monkey-ing around (ha ha!), others were feeling the need to procreate. Yes, it's true. I'll spare you the details.

Our next stop was the aquarium. This was a big hit with the whole family! My only complaint was that it was crowded, but we enjoyed seeing everything from sharks to penguins to starfish to jellyfish!

Our last stop of the day was a large dome where desert animals lived. We saw wallabies, meerkats, and tapir, along with some birds and snakes.

After that, we called it a day. We're looking forward to our next trip to the zoo. We know there are giraffes, elephants, hippos, the butterfly house and an aviary left to see!

It was so nice to have a day off from babysitting and regular obligations and to be able to go do something fun with our family! Have you had any family outings lately?

I think I've documented a couple other trips to different zoos on this little family blog. It's definitely one of our favorite places to go with little kids!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homemade Face Cream

My youngest is 2 1/2 and likes to reference things as happening "last week". Sometimes he means yesterday, sometimes he means some other time in the past. It's super cute, but I might be biased.

Anyway, I was starting to tell you about my homemade face cream I referenced in my Crunchy post last week. I thought you'd like to see the way I make it.

First I gather all the ingredients on a tray and photograph it for posterity.

Just kidding, but these are the three ingredients I use: Olive oil, coconut oil and lavender essential oil. You also need a whisk or spoon or other stirring device and a jar with a lid.

My container is from an adorable little candle I found at the grocery store last fall. It's a mason jar that's probably only 3-4 ounces. I regret only buying two! I knew it was a seasonal item but thought they'd have more for Christmas or Valentine's but I haven't seen them again. Moving on.

I put a big scoop of coconut oil in the jar then microwave it for 30 seconds to soften the oil so it can be mixed with the other oils.

Next I pour in some olive oil.

For the record, I didn't decant the olive oil to be fancy for this post! I buy oil in the giant containers and prefer to keep them out of sight, so I use this green jar all the time. Not sure why I felt it necessary to clear that up, but whew!

I then add a few drops of lavender essential oil. I'm sure there are others you could use, but I like the smell and it's supposed to be quite fantastic for your skin.

Then whip it up! I've heard of some people blending it in the blender which might have really cool results. I imagine it is really smooth and creamy, but I just don't make enough at once to bother.

The last step I take is to stick the jar of newly mixed face cream in the fridge. I find it takes quite some time for the coconut oil to harden again, so I speed it up by chilling it. By the way, the purpose of mixing olive oil into your face cream is for the consistency. I've found that straight coconut oil is hard to work with, and I prefer the smell when olive oil and essential oil are added.

So there you have it! Super easy, super good for you! I use this every morning and sometimes at night. It only takes about the size of a pea to cover your whole face, so even though I slather it on my boys' faces in the winter too, a little container like this lasts a long time!

This recipe works great as a make-up remover as well. Just rub it on and wipe it off with a soft cloth. I sometimes do this but really don't prefer how it lingers around my eyes, although some people swear by it.

Are you going to try it? You probably have all the ingredients on hand already! What crunchy beauty recipes do you use?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It's been gradually creeping up on me, this crunchy thing.

But I have to admit, I'm getting pretty granola.

Do you have a clue what I'm talking about? Here are some hints:

Yesterday I mentioned using some homemade beauty products and a friend asked me to elaborate. Ok! I'd love to share what's working for me. I'm by no means an expert and I continue to adjust and experiment but my skin feels better, acts better and is easier to take care of, plus I'm saving a lot of money on beauty products.

I used to buy name brand products, and though they were "lower end", as in, something you could get at Target or your corner drug store, even my simplistic routine really added up. Olay, Clean & Clear, Secret, Pantene--and Bath & Body Works. Love those smells and still feel pampered when I get some BBW for a gift! I always always used lotion on my skin after a shower, faithfully washed my face every evening and moisturized it again, shampooed and conditioned my hair every day, applied antiperspirant at least once a day, you know, everything you're "supposed" to do.

I've gone through some struggles with my health over the last decade, and completely changed my life-style from yuppy single career woman to married stay-at-home-mommy. While my health is fine, more or less, I realized about two years ago that the cycle of being pregnant, post-partum, nursing, getting pregnant again three times over had really taken a toll on me. I had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism back in my single days and had just taken my synthetic meds being told that there was no cure. With each pregnancy I had different health-care providers and in between was yet another doctor, so it seems my dose was constantly changing and never stable.

To make a long story short because this wasn't supposed to be about all of that, I've finally taken my health into my own hands and have begun the long journey to get me back on track. Actually, this started about 18 months ago. I've had ups and downs and many more changes and moves since then, but I am gradually learning what works. I have two triggers, especially, that make me feel lousy: gluten and sugar.

I'm happy to say that I'm at a point where I'm gluten AND sugar free 90% of the time. And when I give in and have bread at the Macaroni Grill or splurge on a latte at Starbucks or have a couple slices of real pizza, I pay for it the next day or two.

That's my point of the background story. Some of the improvement I've seen in my skin might be because of diet more than skin care products.

Still, there's the money-saving part, and knowing my homemade skin care items aren't slowly killing me (um, aluminum? fluoride?), aren't tested on animals, don't have wasteful by-products, and I could eat them if I had to. I'll take it.

Ok. Finally.

I clean my face with oil. After years of trying to get my skin to be less oily. Yeah, ironic. I read something written by The Wellness Mama about a year ago about an effective oil cleansing method.

please pin from the original website

I'm kinda lazy though, and over the last year, this has turned into a moisturizer for me. Here's what I do: Equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and quality coconut oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil. I put it in a little jar which lasts forever, even though I was slathering it on my boys' chapped cheeks all winter! It's weird at first, so I start with less than I think I'll need and it's usually enough. I try to keep my hair out of the way and just let it soak in while doing something else for a minute or two, and then apply make-up as usual.

I don't wash my face at night. If I feel dry or dirty, I'll apply more oil-moisturizer.

Speaking of oily hair and Wellness Mama, I also use her recipe for dry shampoo. Again, it's kinda weird to get used to it and kinda funny when you catch of whiff of chocolate and realized it's your hair, but it helps me go longer between washes. That whole no-shampoo movement? I just can't get past the "transition" phase they say your scalp goes through where you feel so grody and greasy and before the magical my-hair-and-scalp-have-never-felt-better thing. Who knows, I might try it again on a camp trip or when I find a cute enough hat, but for now I still wash 2-3 times a week with real, commercial shampoo!

please pin from the original source

We're still using our version of DIY toothpaste. I like being able to squeeze it, but it's pretty hard in the winter so we've been scooping with our toothbrushes which thrashes them! I'm thinking of adding a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the ratio of ingredients below to see if it's a better consistency. Here's a link to that original post even though the recipe is on the picture sequence below!

The last item I want to mention is still in a trial phase, but I think I like it! I've been looking for a good, natural deodorant for a long time. I've tried the salt crystal thing, Tom's brand natural stuff, straight coconut oil... Yeah, no. But just last week I tried this recipe from Homemade Mommy.

Only now that I study it, I realize how much I adapted it. So my version is inspired by Homemade Mommy. Whatever works, right?

I used a quarter cup each baking powder and arrowroot powder and mixed it up with a half cup of coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil. While it was soft from mixing, I spooned it into an empty deodorant container and let it harden for a day. You know what? It works! I'm not stinky or particularly sweaty, and you can apply it the same way as always! Win!

Homemade Mommy's recipe includes clay and shae and less baking powder. I'm sure it's wonderful but I didn't have those ingredients. I've heard frankincense is a great essential oil for deodorant. I'd like to try it or sandalwood or something, but that really does sound crunchy so I better stick to what I have!

Well, there you go. I've been reading up on how to make your own mineral make-up, but I'm not sure I can handle any more food items smeared on my face!

What about you? Have you tried any natural beauty product recipes lately? Are you crunchy?

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Day in the Life

Happy Monday, guys!

Here's something weird I almost hate to admit. About me. Are you ready? I kindof like Mondays.

Sharing my Valentine flowers with you!

Isn't that so bad? I mean, it's like a thing to hate Mondays, but after a couple days of loose schedules and expectations of fun and relaxation that never seems to happen, I like Mondays for their reliability, stability and, yes schedule. I didn't like them so much when I had a career, but now that I'm a stay at home mom we all seem a little happier to be back to the routine.

So since Mondays in my book don't stink, I thought I'd share one with you! Talk about exciting! I do some daycare and this Monday that I documented was a busy one with three extra kids coming and going.

Here we go! I'll just do these in order from top to bottom, left to right. Mmmkay?

1. Somehow my decaf with half and half and stevia helps me get out of bed in the morning. The smell, the warmth, the ritual.
2. I take it with me to the bathroom and listen to my devotional on my phone. I have struggled to faithfully have morning devotionals since I was a teenager, and this actually works! I have a reminder set on the Bible app and love to listen to somebody else read the Bible while I get ready for the day. Here's a peek of my make-up in our grody (rented) medicine cabinet.
3. I love this home made face cream! It's coconut oil, olive oil and lavender essential oil. Totally works and I rarely get blemishes. I have lots of other granola things going on, but I'm saving that for another post.
4. I'm inadvertently growing out my hair. Just haven't scheduled an appointment! My shaggy head looks better when I curl my hair and the only thing that really works is a straight iron. Seriously. It lasts for three days with a few touch-ups.
5. Breakfast time! Lately we've been having eggs or oatmeal, and the kids love it uncooked. Not kidding! We do a scoop of "quick" oats, a round teaspoon of brown sugar, a few walnuts and almond milk. Yum! We also like it with honey, apples and cinnamon. So easy, and no pan to wash!
6. One of the day care kids is here before breakfast is over. She's already eaten but joins us at the table for a clementine.
7. Our family joins hands in a circle and prays for protection throughout the day before Daddy leaves.
8. Then we all wave as he drives off!
9. The kids are busy so I wash the dishes before more kiddos arrive.

1. It's February but SO COLD out. I know it'll be an inside day.
2. The kids all watch the squirrels out of the living room window. There are six kids today, our three boys (ages 2, 4, 6) and three extras (all 3-year-olds).
3. The kids head downstairs to jump on the trampoline so I stole a moment to sweep.
4. One of the sweet day care girls. It was her first day. I wanted to keep her!
5. Toys! Everywhere!
6. Another day care kiddo. Those curls kill me!
7. My boy Josiah tells me about the Lego house he's building. Love him!
8. I notice the sun is shining on my gallery wall in the hall. Yes, I have an obsession!
9. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!

1-3. Lunch time! I almost always serve pb&j on days I have more than one extra kid. Everyone loves them and you can't get much easier.
4. Story time is after lunch. I try to let each kiddo choose a story, but on days with six kids it lasts a little too long!
5. I tuck a couple kids in for naps. Mr. Curls naps, and so does Josiah. He's also potty training, so after he sits on the potty I pick him up and carry him to bed and we stick our tongues out at the mirror. I love little traditions.
6. The girls don't nap, per their parents' requests. They do school with us instead--my boys didn't get much done because of the distraction, but they had fun and we have some flexibility in our curriculum.
7. School time leads to art time. Today's request is paint, so we watercolor on wet coffee filters. They dry pretty and if you fold up the middle and pinch it with a pipe cleaner, they make cute flowers.
8-9. One of the girls goes home and the rest of us have an hour of quiet time. When we don't have extra kids around, my boys go to their rooms and read or play or draw quietly. With the extras we have to be more creative about where to put everybody, but I'm pretty consistent about quiet time. It helps my sanity for the afternoon, and it's good for them to learn how to be quiet and stay entertained on their own.

1. After nap time is snack. Today is cheese and crackers.
2. I start Indian curried lentil soup for supper, a family favorite!
3. The remaining kids play while they wait for their dads to come get them. Sometimes the afternoons get long and I'm really looking forward to nicer weather so everyone can get some fresh air and vitamin D while they get their endless energy out!
4. We tell the last two day care kids good-bye. My boys have reading time, usually on the kitchen floor, while I finish supper prep. Daddy comes home and takes a shower (painting is messy!)
5. Jonathan is *this close* to reading, so I help him sound things out. Tonight he chose "Bingo" which is great for the repetition!
6. I made a spinach salad and am eating it with cottage cheese and the lentil soup. So good!
7. Josiah is counting on his fingers. "One, two, wee, por, pive." I caught three in the picture--note how it's a little different!
8. The boys get ready for bed and we have family worship before tucking them in. I didn't get pictures of any of that. Kinda hard to document when I'm reading Bible stories and praying and it's dark! It's about 7:45 when Gary and pull out the laptops in the living room.
9. I blog or read other blogs while Gary watches documentaries or spends time on the phone regarding our mission. We're supposed to go to bed at 9 but usually it's more like 10.

So there you go! A random, average day in February! Of course it doesn't show all the other things we do. Gary sometimes runs in the evening, I do a bunch more chores on days I don't have quite so many kids, the boys have chores too, and sometimes I do crafts or mission-related work like newsletters or thank-you cards. You never know!

What about you? Do you hate Mondays? I hope today was a good one for you!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Hello my pretties!

I've been cleaning house. Not my real house, my blog! I've decided that if I'm going to re-focus my target audience, I'm going to make a few changes around here.

Also I was bored.

So if you're reading in a reader and want to see the updates, click on over! But oh yeah, my main target is my future self, so, yeah. Hi self!

Just to clear this up, if you're still wondering, life has changed and I can't do so much DIY, I don't have time or the budget for extra crafts, we're renting and that doesn't avail itself to much home improvement, we're downsizing so I cant show you my awesome deals and updated rooms with thrifted or antiqued treasures. I'm just me.

Living this life.


I want my blog to reflect that.

I've taken away AdSense. Whew! What a relief! I never made money off of it anyway. In fact, this blog could easily stand as the poster child of what not to do if you want to make your blog a business.

Can I just say I've read a million of these posts? How to Make Money Blogging. Let me just say, those women must be dedicated! At the time my son's nursery was posted (two years ago) and I did a couple other room re-dos, I was spending about two hours a day blogging, not to mention the hands-on time for the projects I was doing. It was hard work! I loved it, but felt to make money blogging I had to spend even more time, write about topics I didn't care about, and network by linking and linking and linking--all of which is time consuming! And link parties are nice, but to be honest I would spend so much time linking to parties and linking back and visiting other party goers that I didn't have time for what was important to me.

So. If you want to make money blogging, don't read this blog! If you want to look at cool projects, I have quite a few in the archives. I can hope to have more in the future, but no promises. I'm blogging for me now, and the things I care most about are a little trio of boys who all call me mama!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Christmas Past

Wow, it feels good to blog again! Somehow it's easier to write more when I write more. Sounds redundant, but whatever it is, it works for me.

So today I wanted to share the rest of our Christmas pictures, you know, for the record. I know no one cares about Christmas anymore, but I want to be able to look back and remember that one Christmas in Lincoln.

Note: The pictures stink. It's true, they do. Whatever excuses I might have, it doesn't really matter. And my apologies in advance to my family for the awful pictures of you, and for hiding behind the camera and ending up not being in any said awful pictures.

(For the rest of the pictures of our Christmas 2013, go here. And here. And here.)

We stayed put at Christmas. We had a little tree and kids big enough to enjoy decorating and getting into crafts and super excited to open presents! We kept Christmas really simple and low-budget. The boys got fun stuff from all their grandparents and two boxes of books from my cousin who had out-grown them. We love books!

My brother, Luke, his wife, Lisa, and their kiddo, Declan, came for Christmas!!! That was an awesome gift to me! Lisa has been my bff since my freshman year of college, and I've only met my nephew once. And of course Luke is super fun too.

Lisa and I got to sneak away for coffee/chats twice! Pure bliss, lemme tell ya, except we were kinda stressed and actually able to open up to each other and ended up crying... You know, just life stuff. And the opening up thing isn't new for us--hello, we've been friends for almost *choke* 20 years! It was just being around a close friend and having the opportunity to really share about stuff. You know? Completely therapeutic and worth much more than a $4 coffee!

Anyway, Luke read and talked to Jonathan for hours at a time! What a trooper! Jonathan reminds me a lot of my brother when we were kids. He wants to know everything about everything, but unlike Luke, Jonathan can really talk your leg off! Jared and Josiah got read to a lot too, and had fun following Declan (age 1) around. The group pictures didn't work out too well, but we also didn't want to fuss about it.

All in all, my memories of Christmas 2013 are good ones! Thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me. And yay! I have it written down for posterity!


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