Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Date Night Is Important

Tonight is date night. Once the brownies are out of the oven, we'll be off to dinner and a movie (Mexican and the new Sherlock Holmes to be precise.) I'm excited. I worked extra earlier in the week so I could take the afternoon off and be able to rest before we headed out (we took a nap together, which we both desperately needed). So back to the excited thing, as I told my coworkers about my plans for the evening, I think I got a few sly looks. It seems as if they didn't understand why I would be so excited and insistent about leaving on time for date night.

Every couple needs date night. If you and your spouse don't do date night, you should. Here's why.

Research shows that a large portion of marital satisfaction can be traced back to two broad areas:
1. Does the couple spend time together outside of the tasks of marriage (maintaining the house, work, child-rearing, and sex)?
2. Does each spouse believe that they are important to and a priority for the other?

If the answer is yes to these questions, the couple is more likely to be satisfied in the marriage than if an answer is no. (This is a summary of several different theories/research.)

This is why date nights are so important. Here are the keys to a successful date night (from my perspective):

You must engage in something that you both enjoy. If it's one person's hobby and the other is just tagging along, that doesn't count. If you go out to eat at her favorite restaurant, and he can't stand it, that doesn't count. For instance, tonight we're going out for Mexican. Now, I usually do not like Mexican food all that much. However, I've really wanted a steak quesadilla all week. So, I suggested a local Mexican restaurant that I know Philip likes. He gets to eat someplace he really likes, that we don't go very often, and I get my quesadilla.

The next important aspect of date night is intentionality. Philip and I spend plenty of time together and we often go out to eat or do something with one another, but on date nights, we specifically set that time aside just for the other person. We naturally answer yes to that first question and date night helps us to show one another the answer to question two is also yes. It's not date night if I open up the meat for dinner and it smells bad. It's date night because we decided ahead of time that that evening was reserved for one another. Unless an emergency occurs that stops you from having date night, it does not get cancelled, ever.

For those who have children there's always more to consider. If you can, get a sitter. If not, bring the kids with you. Nothing will be a better lesson for your children on how to treat a partner, or be treated, then seeing you and your spouse having a good relationship. Your children should see that you and your partner love one another and how you show that love. This teaches them (stronger than any words or lessons at church camp) how they should treat others, and how they should be treated.

One thing I hear a lot is that people can't afford a date night. I don't buy that. If you can afford to eat, you can afford date night. Have date night at home. Watch a movie and each frozen pizza. If you are spending time together and being intentional about it, that's date night.

So, the brownies are out of the oven. I'm going to get ready!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Sale!

Everything in the shop is now on sale! Soaps as low as $0.70. All Cards Sets are $2 with FREE domestic shipping and all scarves are $5 also with free shipping! Custom Orders are even 10% off!

Head on over and check it out! Cross off that Christmas list without having to elbow your way to the register!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Five Educational Toys You Already Own

Educational toys seem to the be the big thing for awhile now. People shell out large sums of money for toys that are supposed to make their kids "smarter." Well, here are some toys that you already have, or can make very cheaply to help your little one develop important motor and cognitive skills.

  1. Paper and crayons/pens/markers/pencils/chalk. This cannot be understated. The act of drawing not only helps a child learn important motor skills for penmanship, but it also engages both sides of the brain. Most of us can see how the act of creating an image helps the creative half of the brain. However, it also helps the analytical. The logical, analytical brain is figuring out dimensions, shapes, lines, and proportion. It learns that if it wants everything on one page it has to space it right. Some research also suggests that allowing children to free draw then talk about their drawings encourages communication and social skills, as well as helps to develop emotional intelligence and self-reflection.
  2. Wooden spoons. Most of us have a few of these at home. Buy a cheap pair just for play or give your little ones older ones that have been washed (be sure to check that they aren't splintering). Wooden spoons can be used to teach motor skills by using them as bats or hockey sticks and hitting soft balls around the room. They can also teach rhyme and basic math/counting skills by using them as rhythm sticks. If you have a large number of spoons/forks/spatulas you can use them to teach sorting, counting, and even early division skills.
  3. A Sheet or Towel. These can be used to teach basic math skills such as fractions. (Fold the sheet in half, then in half again. Now you have fourths.) These are also great at teaching deductive skills and visualization skills. Place a favorite toy or common household item under a thin sheet or blanket. Have your child feel the item and guess as to what it is. You can also give simple clues such as color or use. This is an important cognitive skill that helps with problem solving and creative processes.
  4. Family Photo Albums. Use your family albums to teach a variety of topics and skills. The topics you can teach are as varied as your photos. Teach about seasons, families, religious events, geography, history, the possibilities are endless. You can also use your family photos to tell stories and teach sequencing. Put photos together and make your own story book. Kids love to hear about people they know. How neat would be to hear of the story of how Grandpa defeated the evil army to come home and marry Princess Grandma? You can also have your child tell you the story of the photo. Have them come up with the craziest possible story behind that photo of you and your roommate from college. This type of storytelling not only focuses on creative skills, but on emotional intelligence, social skills, and empathy.
But wait, I said five educational toys, didn't I? The last educational toy is certainly not least. In fact, the most important educational toy you already own is your brain. You don't need a computer game or dancing doll to teach your child their ABC's, just sing it with them. They don't need to watch special programing on television or have a collection of made-for-babies DVDs. Go for a walk with them and point to things and name them. Then have your child spell T-R-E-E and B-I-R-D and F-L-O-W-E-R. Soon you can have them counting the trees and telling you the types, what season they bloom in, what fruit or nuts they make. And you know what? All it costs is your time. 

I know we are all very busy people, but if you really want your baby to be a genius or straight-A student, they don't need special books or learning programs. They need you. Get into the habit of seeing every moment as a learning experience and play with your kids. Your son may not solve all the mysteries of String Theory, but he just might turn out to be one pretty awesome kid.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Today is my first payday in over two years. I am so lucky to have a job, especially one that I like (or think I will like, I haven't really gotten started on my own just yet). My office also officially becomes my office today. I'm a real professional now... or something. :)

I just thank God that He's given me this opportunity.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Etsy Update

I started my full-time job as a service coordinator this week. It's been crazy busy, but I love it so far. However, that doesn't mean I've neglected the shop. I did have to miss Art Walk due to my back hurting, but I plan to be at Hickory Street's Open House this weekend!

First on the list of what's happening: I have a Tumblr account now! You can find me here: I've just barely gotten it started, but I hope to build it up in the coming weeks. Don't forget, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest, too!

Blog Features:

I'm honored to be featured in this awesome blog post. If you're looking for Christmas gift ideas and stocking stuffers, check it out:

New Listings:
I've added larger listings for custom orders as well as a bunch of new soap shapes, colors, and introducing new Lemon Verbena scent. The Lemon Verbena reminds me of Lemon Head candies and is incredibly fresh smelling.

Owl Soap

  • First on the list of new: I've put up listings for orders of twelve to twenty-four favors for various soap shapes. When you purchase one of these listings, you get to choose your color and scent(s). This is an easy way to plan for any upcoming parties! (Link)
  • Tree Frogs: A great impulse buy or stocking-stuffer! (Link)
  • Pair of Owls: Two adorable owls for your washing needs! These guys are in the new Lemon Verbena Scent and would be a great way to get a little sniff of this fresh scent. (Link)
  • There are two sizes of ladybugs for all you ladies out there! (Trio of Mini-Ladybugs) (Single Larger Ladybug)
  • I'm also proud to introduce you to Tulip Soap. This soap has real tulip petals within the bar. (Link)
  • Also, a bright blue, Sandalwood bar is now up in the shop. This color just brings a smile to my face. (Link)
Coming Soon:

I'm thinking of focusing the shop on just the soaps and letting the scarf listings expire if they don't sell this holiday season. This means that there will be many more soaps going up in the shop in the coming weeks. I've got many shapes, colors, and scents you haven't seen yet and hope to create more listings for larger party orders as these soaps make such awesome favors and gifts!

Featured Treasuries:
I've been blessed by the number of curators who have chosen to include my items in these awesome treasuries. I encourage you to check them out for some great gift ideas!
Curated Treasury:
Here are some amazing animal photos for you to ponder.

Thanks so much for your support everyone! I reached 101 items today! I really appreciate all your support and encouraging comments. 

Season of Gratitude

Today I am grateful that I got to see my Kindergarteners again. I was sick two weeks ago and then hurt my back so I had missed two Sundays. I loved getting to sit with those little ones and have them tell me about school and how Harry Potter 3 is so scary and that guy with the weird nose is creepy. These little ones keep me young, give me joy, and just make life better.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Today I got to shadow the service coordinator who I am replacing. Her husband's in the military and they're moving for his new station, so she's leaving on good terms. Her goal is for me to meet most if not all of the 40 or so people on my case load before she leaves. We met probably about 15-20 today.

These are some of the sweetest people ever. Today I was hugged more than you can imagine (plus one guy tried to kiss me, but I ducked that one) and was told that I was "a very pretty lady." The woman I'm replacing told me that it's hard for her to say good-bye to some of the clients, and I can see why. Many of them tugged on my heartstrings today.

For those of you who don't know, this week I started a job as a Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Service Coordinator. The people in my case load have various levels of disability ranging from highly functioning to non-verbal persons.

One thing I know will come of this new position is a renewed gratitude. We often take our health for granted, but even more, we take for grated our basic functioning. I don't think about how lucky I am that I can walk normally, can work, can talk, can make my choices regarding what I wear or eat, and in general, can interact with my environment.

Obviously, I don't know what it would be like to have some of the impairments that my new clients have, and I know that they are receiving the best of care to provide the best quality of life possible; and if not, it's my job to make sure they do (and I will take that responsibility very seriously).

I guess what I'm grateful for today is that God has given me the opportunity to have these forty or so people in my life and the amazing blessings that I know will come from my friendships with them.

Remember to take time to listen...

Found this on a friend's Facebook:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Season of Gratitude

I have a really awesome husband. Just so you know. He may not be the most touchy-feely guy in the world, but I always know that I am loved.

That's all for tonight. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Season of Gratitude/ Prayer Request

I start work today! I'm really excited and hopeful about the positive changes this will bring to our family. However, I hurt my back last week (hence not so many posts these past few days) and it's still hurting. I would appreciate your prayers for healing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Etsy Update

It's been a busy week as I've been trying to get ready to go back to working full time while also preparing for the Christmas season and upcoming events. Here's a rundown of all that's new in the shop this week:

New Listings:

  • Yellow star ornament in the style of the other yarn ornaments, in a traditional bright yellow. (link)
  • Hufflepuff Book Scarf perfect for any Harry Potter fan! (link)
  • Christmas Tree Soap: A set of five small christmas tree soaps in Vanilla scent. Perfect for holiday parties and guest bathrooms! (link)
  • Thumbprint Soap: No rope needed! This soap bar has a small indent on the top to make it more easily held. (link)
  • Bath Salts: My last jar of bath salts in stock. These are orange and scented with an invigorating blend. These make a great gift for you or someone else. Read in the description for more information about sea salt soaks. (link)
  • Chunky Soap: I love this soap! It has such a unique look. (link)
  • Grey Bar: A perfect gift for a man or woman, this simple bar is elegant and useful. (link)
  • Sleeping Kitten: A puuurfect addition to any little girl's room or gift for mom-to-be. (link)
  • Elephant: Perfect for a jungle nursery, or just to add a little whimsy to your daily routine! (link)
  • Dragonfly: Pretty in pink and lovely for any little girl. (link)
Purple and Pink Chunky Soap when held to the light.
Coming Soon:
Keeping it simple this week, ladies and gents: I'm trying to get more of the soap inventory into the Etsy shop, and continuing to work on some knit items. I'm not sure how much will get done, but once I get the new schedule figured out, I'll get back on track.

Featured Treasuries:
Made Treasuries:
Social Media Links:
I'm practically everywhere now. Follow what you'd like:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just a reminder..

Photo on 2011-11-03 at 13:33.jpg I may love Christmas, but let us not forget Thanksgiving on the way!

I've seen many gratitude posts on Facebook and Twitter. Let's all take some time to be mindful of our blessings this month!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Today I am grateful that we cut Simon's nails. As some of you know, he has a bit of an aggression problem. We think it's linked to the fact that he ate some crafting supplies as a kitten which acted like a neuro-toxin and left him with an occasional tremor. We think he might just be a little brain damaged which leads to more aggression.

All that to say, he's been pretty aggressive the past few days, and we couldn't figure out why. Well, when Philip got home from work he noticed that Simon had some fuzz stuck in a claw. We then looked, and saw that his claws had gotten pretty beat up. Our apartment has cement floors and they do a number on his claws. When we saw how bad they were we decided to trim them up. Simon hates getting his claws trimmed, like most cats, but afterwards he was an angel.

He's been sweet and rubbing up against us, wanting to be petted. He's laid down in our laps, and actually wants to play. The poor thing was just trying to get us to pay attention to his feet, and we didn't know it. Finally, he's feeling better, and I think my arms and legs might get some time to heal.

Hail To The V

I just love this commercial. Let's use it as a reminder to care for ourselves. Get regular check-ups and cervical cancer screenings! Show yourself some love.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Philip had the day off today, which is very uncommon (having a weekday off). We had a really good day. Did some shopping for Christmas items and got a new game he'd been looking forward to. We also looked at some apartments that we might be considering. We're just not sure if we want to move at Christmas time. It's been a really good day. It was nice to be able to just have a day together.

Drug-Free Halloween in Abilene?

So, apparently there was a station at Abilene's Boo at the Zoo where this sticker, all with other anti-drug/anti-drinking posters and stickers were handed out to the children:

Then, there was a public outcry. This sticker is accused of being inappropriate for children, inappropriate for the area, and somehow promoting the use of Meth.

Here's my take on it: When I was in elementary school, I think maybe fourth grade, the DARE program had a puppet show. The puppets told us about how drugs were bad, and the affects of different drugs on your body. I remember in that puppet show being told that LSD never truly leaves your body. Once you take it, it doesn't wash out. That puppet show was 15 years ago, and I still remember it.

Things like this are intended to help children remember the message. Nothing on this sticker is wrong. Meth will make you a "twitchy idiot" faster than you will realize you have a problem. If this sticker keeps one kid from taking Meth, it did it's job.

As far as this message not being needed in Abilene:

"Statistics have shown that their are approximately 5,594 marijuana users, 2,449 people abusing prescription drugs, 916 cocaine addicts, 416 people using hallucinogens, 233 people that use inhalants, and 51 heroin addicts who live in Abilene, Texas.
It is estimated that 166 people will be killed by tobacco, 32 people will die from alcohol, 6 lives will be lost to illicit drug use, and there will be 6 deaths due to intoxicated driving this year in Abilene.
There will also be close to 706 people arrested for drug charges and around 535 DUIs in Abilene this year." (source)

From the Texas Department of Health and Human Services's Drug Facts Among Youth 2010:

  • Use of methamphetamine (speed, crystal meth, ice, or crank) was first reported in the 2008 secondary school survey. About 3.0 percent reported lifetime use of methamphetamine in 2010, down from 3.5 percent in 2008. However, the past-month use of methamphetamine remained stable at 0.8 percent during the past two years. 

  • 4.8% of High School seniors have tried Meth in 2008. 2.9% of Ninth graders, and 2.3% of seventh graders.

Drugs are a problem. This sticker should upset you. It should upset you because there are people out there who will give and sell Meth to your children. However, if you throw this sticker out and never talk about it, you are simply contributing to the problem. That might sound harsh, but if you don't talk with your kids about drug use, I know a really nice guy on the corner who will tell them all about drugs, but that might not be what you want them to hear.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Tomorrow will be one year since my accident. Today I went on a walk with Philip for twenty minutes, did about five minutes of yoga, and danced for ten minutes, and have no hip pain! Considering I could hardly make it to class on November 1st of last year, that's amazing.

Praise God for healing. Thanks to Philip for his support, and prayers that I keep up the motivation.

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

Are you ready for a treat? This delicious bread is 100% amazing! I got the recipe from my Greek teacher, Marcia Moore. During winter finals week, I would always make my way down to her room to grab a slice or two.
2 cups flower
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup pumpkin

Mix all the ingredients together.
Spray with Pam two small (3x7) bread pans or three 5x3 pans.
Poor batter into pans until just under rim.
Bake 45-60 minutes at 350.
Enjoy! So very, very yummy. Great for gifts, breakfast, dessert, anything!

Want to make your own fresh pumpkin? Directions here:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Etsy Update

It's been another busy week getting ready for the holiday season. The shop's getting a lot more traffic (four days over 100 views, and one over 200!) and more publicity including two blog articles! I've been busy in the treasuries as well as listing new items and remaking the current listings. One thing you may have noticed is that all the listings now begin with a quote! This was something I thought would help the listings to stand out as well as put a little more "Amie" into each piece. 

Well, here's the run down of what's gone on this week:

Blog Features:

New Listings:
  • Orange Bumble Bee Soap- Another little bumble to buzz his way into your heart. (link)
  • A Purple cat rope toy- Simon loves these so much, it's hard to keep him away while I make them. (link)
  • A new cross shape soap. This one is also green and vanilla scented, but a more delicate design. (link)

Cross Soap
  • Green bar soap in sweet pea. (link)
  • Wedding cake soap in Yellow and Japanese Lotus Blossom. These are great favors for wedding showers or receptions! They are also wonderful for welcome baskets for out-of-town guests. Discounts are available for large orders. (link)
Wedding Cake Soap
  • Angel soap. These are great for Christmas gifts and appreciation gifts for Sunday School teachers. (link)
  • Pair of Roses soap set in light purple with invigorating scent blend. For someone else, or as a gift to yourself, these roses pack a wonderful luxurious scent. (link) 
Rose Blossom and Rose Bud Soap Set

  • Mini-presents soap set. These little soaps are shaped like gift boxes with bows. They are great for use in a guest bathroom this holiday season! (link)
  • Stripped bar soap. Three shades of blue soap packed together for a unique look. Great for the eccentric or teenaged bathroom! (link)
  • Aloe Vera soap disks. I'm really excited for these new soaps. They have aloe vera extract infused within the soap to help heal and restore. Two colors are available and unscented for you to try this awesome new soap. (Cranberry) (Blue)
  • Happy Hippo! This little guy just brings a smile to my face. He's so fun and cute. Blue and sandalwood scented this makes a great gift for any new mom or mom-to-be! (link)
Coming Soon:
  • A combo of the cranberry and blue aloe vera soaps.
  • A jar of bath salts made with real sea salt.
  • More Christmas ornaments.
  • Many more novelty soap shapes, colors, and scents.
Featured Treasuries:

Season of Gratitude

I have one awesome husband. I really do. And I don't think I show my appreciation for him hardly enough. God has truly blessed me by allowing me to be partnered with Philip these past four years, and I pray for many more to come.

Simon Says...

Simon says TV rots your brain. Humans should watch more of it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I know that kid!

The father in this video is a guy I went to school and church with in middle and high school. This was their way of helping their daughter remember her daddy while he was deployed. They happened to put it on YouTube to share with friends and it became rather popular. If you need a tearjerker, here you go:

To Brighten Your Day...

Halloween is coming! Are you protected from zombies on your lawn?

Season of Gratitude

Today I am grateful for keeping busy. I've been working crazy hard on the etsy shop (I hope it shows). It seems as if this week has just flown by. I am grateful for having more to do than I know how to get done. However, I'm also reminded that I need to slow down and prioritize. For instance, I haven't done a gratitude post in quite a while. I've also not done any of the homework for tomorrow's Bible study.

Well, I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Etsy Update!

It's been quite the busy week! Here's a rundown of what's going on with the store.

What's New:

  • A Purple and White loom-knit scarf! Thick and comfy, these scarves are some of my favorites! (link)
  • Extra-long and so cheerful, this nursery yellow scarf was a long time coming. (link)
  • Bouncing, beautiful, blue butterflies! Fresh rain scent, and the perfect little pick-me-up. (link)
  • Robin: The Joker's Wild Part II Upcycled ornament! This comic features an old school style Joker with guest appearances from Batman, Edward Nigma, Alfred, and Harvey Dent! Can you find them all? (link)
  • Book scarves! Hand-knit mini-scarvf bookmarks! Solid in pairs and available in three color combinations. (Green) (Black) (White)
Coming Soon:
  • Fleece plush cat toys in geometric shapes.
  • A purple fleece cat rope like the orange one already in the shop.
  • A navy blue loom-knit scarf in a pattern not seen before!
  • iPad and iPhone knit cases!
I have been really honored with the number of treasuries my items have been in this week! I really appreciate the positive feedback from my fellow etsians.

Keep an eye on the shop for new items being posted every week. There are plenty of items with free shipping to help you cross off your Christmas list without breaking the bank. And for those who are local, there is free delivery within the Abilene city limits for purchases of $10 or more. I also plan to be at November's Art Walk. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Simon Says...

Simon says get eight hours of sleep every night plus naps, lots of naps.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Season of Gratitude

I just received the last little bit of paperwork from the accident! All insurance claims from both my insurance and the other guy's are finished and complete! I am so excited to not have to deal with this any more. I still have a lot of work to do on my hip, but I don't have to worry about any paperwork or phone calls or anything... It is wonderful!

Season of Gratitude (from last night)

Philip had to work late last night, but when he got home he dropped a bag of Reese's miniatures in my lap. He had read the blog during a break and knew I wasn't having the best of nights and wanted to cheer me up. I really do have a wonderful husband. I don't know that I can ever be grateful enough for him.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Childless in Church (Part II)

I am incredibly disillusioned with my Bible study right now. With a group of ladies from church, we're working through Beth Moore's To Live Is Christ. I was working through some of the homework and I just had to stop. It just wasn't going well.

This day's lesson is talking about Timothy and the legacy of faith through his mother and grandmother. So, let's talk about our children. Here came the one simple sentence that brought me to tears: "Hang in there parent!"

As someone who longs for children so much, such a simple phrase can be such a sharp sword. Now I know that most of the women who will follow this study are parents, because most women are, and once again, I know that there was no ill intent.

But my heart is broken. I know that tomorrow morning the ladies will all want to talk about how important it is for them to instill faith in their children, and I will have nothing to add. They will talk about ways that they teach the stories of the Bible and of the joy of watching their children grow to accept Christ.

Perhaps today is simply a bad day to have done this part of the study. Maybe my hormones are getting the best of me. It's possible that I'm just overly sensitive right now. But I feel like I owe it to myself to be honest about what I'm feeling, and I owe it to the other women in the some position to give them a little louder of a voice.

Thursday Real Estate

So... If you're in the hunt for a new home, this might be at the top of your list!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Today I'm going to choose something that may seem a little strange. Today I am glad that God made me a woman! (Or I guess, that the sperm carrying the X chromosome made it to ovum first, either way.) I was reading some blog post about sexism and the tweeting that went on about it. I'll be honest it got my feathers a little ruffled, but that's for another day.

What I'm grateful for is that God made me a woman and that I have come to see my femininity and sexually as something that is good, from the Creator, and is not something I have to defend. I have no need to label myself a "feminist" or to fight for female power or anything like that. God is good and I am made in His image which includes my female attributes. The world might have a different view, but this world is temporary, and the word of the Creator that I am "very good" is eternal.

Now that's girl power.

Seven Simple Truths I Learned Teaching Sunday School

I help teach our Kindergarten class on Sunday mornings. Our current class averages about 15-23 kids. This is my third class at this church, and they've taught me a lot.

  1. Thank God for everything... In one class we let the kids say a prayer for what they were thankful for and one little boy was thankful for food. "Thank you God for all our food, our ice cream, and our carrots." I don't know that I've ever thanked God for carrots or ice cream, but perhaps I should.
  2. The Bible is an unbelievable story... It's never the same story, but there's always a point in which one  kid will let out a good, "no way!" I think it's important to remember the awe that these stories inspired in us the first time we heard them. 
  3. Praise twice as often as you punish... I've studied parenting and education through out both degrees, but the one thing that could never be stressed enough is that children thrive on praise and perish when overly punished. Yes, kids need to be disciplined in order to learn proper behavior, but I've noticed that we get much better behavior when focused on positive reinforcement of good behavior than discipline of negative behavior. We recently started giving stickers out for exceptional behavior, and I'm making a point of thanking kids for sharing, helping, and listening, and I have seen a huge change in their behavior.
  4. Childlike faith may be simple, but it is real... God is so real to these kids. They don't even think to question if it's just a story or why other people don't believe the same way. God is real and He lives in heaven. Jesus is His son and died on the cross and rose again. And when you pray, God listens. The simple belief of these kids is amazing and wonderful.
  5. The kids are watching you... I've seen little kids (five and six) say and act like 40 year olds, and there's only one place they're learning that: from what they see. This can be both good and bad. One little girl was the spitting image of her grandmother and she sat next to a crying child and patted his shoulder. Another group of little girls emulated their fashionista mommas as they stood in a circle and discussed how another little girl's shoes were "ugly" and "not cool." Good or bad, your children will follow in your footsteps.
  6. They learn what to expect... Most of the class knows to get their name tag now. They know when it's about time to clean up, and they know what the bell means. They also know whether to show Mom and Dad their picture because they will be excited, or just hand it to them because they won't say anything. (I don't mean to rag on parents. Many of our parents are great, but it breaks my heart when kids are so excited to show their parents their balloon sheep, but then Mom's too busy to notice.)
  7. Simple truths are best... Our recent lessons on baptism have been kind of hit or miss. Our lessons are written out for us and we do our best with them, but the baptism lessons were a bit above their level. Cleaning on the inside versus the outside is a bit hard for a Kindergartener, but Jesus is the Lamb of God went amazingly well. People call Jesus "the Lamb of God". Kids can get that. They get that John the Baptist was weird and ate bugs. False prophets and spiritual purity are a bit tougher.
I love teaching my Kindergarteners. It's so amazing to see that little seed of faith grow just a little bit bigger each week. I've even found some amazing role models in the parents whom I can see are making active efforts towards growing their children's faith. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Season of Gratitude

The weather today has been wonderful. I had the slider open all day and Simon and I just relaxed and enjoyed the breeze. It was 53 degrees out when I went for a walk this morning and I've worn a jacket each time I've left the house. I am a winter child and my soul feels at home in this weather.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Season of Gratitude

It's late so I'll make this short. I had two sales this week! I'm so excited! I'm hoping that this means an increase in business for the holiday season.

Well, we just picked up the new Batman game, and it's time for bed.

My Memories Scrapbooking Giveaway!

If you are interested in starting your own digital scrapbook, here's a chance to get a free designer paper package. Simply follow the link to download your paper. If you haven't already bought your copy of My Memories, you can use the code: STMMMS38016 for $10 off! 

Or... be the first to respond to the My Memories review post to get a FREE copy!

Free designer pack:

This week's FREE designer pack!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reflections: Sisters Wives

So, I decided to give Sister Wives a shot and watch an episode. One thing stuck out to me. One of the wives said that she is perplexed when others ask her how she does it. In a scene where they're talking with some other women who are not polygamists, they described all the logistics of their relationships. This seems to be the least puzzling to me. What puzzles me is what the husband said. He said that he is in a monogamous relationship with each of his wives.

What? That is what people don't know how you do. How do you go to bed at night knowing that three out of every four nights your husband is in bed with another woman. How do you sit around the TV and talk about what your husband will name his child with another woman. I get the logistics. I can see the schedules and calendars and all that, but I don't get how you share a husband. A security guard, bank roll, handy man; sure, I could share that. But I could never share a husband.

I don't want to get into the theology or religion of it all. I simply don't understand the emotional aspect. Perhaps the religion provides some manner of being okay with having your husband sleep with another woman. Perhaps it's similar to how some people seem to be okay with open marriages. I just don't get it. I don't mean to be prejudice or ignorant in any way.

They seem like good people, and I've only seen small snippets of their lives, so I'm in no place to pass judgement. However, I think that's a large part of why it seems so strange. Others outside of that belief system can get the details of how you do it, but I don't think others can really understand how you deal with doing it.

Just my thoughts.

Season of Gratitude

I feel as though I'm slowing down with this exercise. When I first began, I was all fired up and thought of so many things. I felt as if I was really learning something and that this exercise was really helping to change my perspective.

While I still find it to be beneficial, I'm just not feeling it today. Perhaps it's because I didn't sleep very well last night or because Philip has to work (he's usually off on Sundays) or maybe I'm just in a funk. Whatever it is, I just don't really have something for today.

I thought about just choosing something and put down the logical reasons why I'd be grateful. After all, there are many good things in my life right now. I have plenty to be grateful for. I just don't feel it.

Perhaps that's the point. Maybe the point of this exercise is to be grateful whether or not I feel like it. Perhaps it's about making gratitude a choice not a reaction. Often we are grateful in response to something, but how often do we choose to be grateful for something. Now, you could say that gratitude is an emotional reaction and therefore cannot be chosen, but I don't think I buy that.

Tonight I am going to choose to be grateful. I will choose to be grateful for the cat that woke me up at 4 a.m. because he brings joy into my life. I will choose to be grateful that Philip is at work because his job, and his dedication to it, supply for our needs. I choose to be grateful.

Restaurant Review: Little Italy

Little Italy is a locally-owned Italian restaurant located on South 14th next to the Abilene Public Library. They are moderately priced with dishes ranging from $7 to $15. They are open for lunch and dinner. They serve a variety of traditional italian plates as well as pizza and some sandwiches. They also have a small, but nice salad bar.

We've been going to Little Italy for years now. The pasta dishes are made in a more traditional style than you might find at other restaurants, and the pizzas are made with a special crust that is to die for. Each table is served fresh rolls with dipping oil.

 The staff is friendly and helpful and they often have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The atmosphere is great for business meals and dates. They have space for large tables, families, and couples. They have some tables set aside behind wicker gates that provide extra privacy perfect for anniversaries and other special occasions.

My recommendations:

  • Manicotti (Philip's favorite)
  • Personal Pizzas (what we usually get at lunch)
  • Fettucini Alfredo (an oil based Alfredo which is lighter than cream-based sauces)
  • Chicken Parmesan (classic and amazing) 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Simon Says...

Simon says avoid unnecessary exposure to sunlight. It gives you wrinkles.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Etsy Update

Here's your weekly Casa Campbell Crafts update!

I had a great time at Art Walk with my friend Sarah last night. We got to meet a ton of people and made a little money at the same time! I also heard a very interesting spoken-word gospel message that had something to do with an octopus.

Our lovely table, and a hint of Philip sitting against the wall.
What's New:

  • Large green cross in vanilla scent. A favorite of craft fairs past. (link)
  • A pair of unscented green stars. These are great for holiday party favors! (link)
  • A sweet little purple bunny in sweet pea. Makes a great hospital gift for new Mommies! (link)
  • Butterfly mini-soaps. These are great for wedding favors, or just to brighten up your bathroom. (link)
I've also decided to offer some of the tuna treat balls that I recently made. These will only be offered for a limited time. (link)

Last but not least, Kuroneko-sama! He's finally finished! (link)

Coming Soon:
  • Light purple and white scarf made by loom. This will look similar to the red and pink one in the shop already.
  • Painted Christmas/wall ornaments. These letter ornaments are great for Christmas trees, but can also be used in nurseries and offices through out the year!
  • Hand-painted wooden puzzles are also on the horizon.

Keep an eye on the shop for new items being posted every week. There are plenty of items with free shipping to help you cross off your Christmas list without breaking the bank. And for those who are local, there is free delivery within the Abilene city limits for purchases of $10 or more. I also plan to be at November's Art Walk. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Season of Gratitude

Tonight I am tired. It's been a good day. I had an interview and got to talk with a friend from school. Then I went to Art Walk and set up a table with yet another friend. What made Art Walk even better was getting to see some of the kids I worked with at the Boys and Girls Club this summer. These precious children give the best hugs and just made my night.

Thursday Mini-Vacay

Had a tough week? Yes or no, take a gander at this Oregon scene and have a little mental vacation. I'd love to lounge under that tree and just loose a few hours...

Brought to you by:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Childless in Church

This is something that's been weighing on my heart for a long time now, and I thought I'd go ahead and put it out there. There is very little space for childless couples in our churches. You go from the college or singles ministry to young marrieds, but young marrieds are expected to have children. After all, most of the class likely has young children or is trying to have children. So what about those who choose to wait? Or even those who didn't get to make that choice?

Philip and I have been married for four years (the exact time can be found on the counter to the right). We chose not to have children while I finished school, and now we wait for medical clearance before we revisit that plan. There's a lady in my Bible study who has also been married four years, and she has three children. In fact, I am the only one in my Bible study who does not have kids. There's a good portion of our class that I cannot contribute to simply because I have yet to have children. The first week of our class even focused on raising children (we're studying Beth Moore's To Live Is Christ). While I found the lessons important not only for my future, but also for my work in children's ministry, I felt a bit out of place.

Then there's the expectations of those in the church. One lady asked me how I was and when I responded with "Good, just a little tired" she assumed I had young children who kept me up. I laughed it off and told her it was just the cat waking me in the morning, but she quickly ended the conversation and moved on to talking with another lady nearby about her children.

Isolated incident, I know. And I know this woman meant no wrong. She simply didn't know what to say next. However, she's not the only one with the assumption of children on her mind, and to be quite frank, it's my Christian friends who are the worse at this.

Only the closest of our non-Christian friends have asked about our plans for children. But everyone I meet at church seems to expect that we have kids. What's worse is the look you get when you tell someone that kids are still a ways away. It's almost like you have three heads. "What do you mean you don't want to get pregnant on your honeymoon? Don't you know children are a blessing from God?"

Yes, children are a blessing, but no, we aren't seeking that blessing just yet.

What breaks my heart is that while I have made a point of being involved in my church despite feeling like the odd one out, I know there are many who have not. I know that there are many hurting women who feel as if they don't quite belong to their churches because they have yet to birth children. And I know that the people who have hurt them had no idea what pain their words and looks could cause.

Here's my challenge to you. If you are blessed to be a parent in our churches, be kind and considerate to those who have chosen, or have come to accept, not having children just yet.

If you are one of the childless in our churches, please stick it out. Find a way to get involved. Use your great mothering skills to support your children's ministry. Use your time to support those around you. And please, be patient with the well-intended words of others.

Season of Gratitude

Today is Simon's birthday!

When we first decided to sell our chinchilla, Bruce, and get a new pet, we were looking for an animal to be at it's core a companion animal. Well, we got Simon. He may not always be the most kind and loving cat, and I think I've sacrificed more flesh to his wrath than the ancient Greeks, but I am incredibly grateful for him.

He has his moments of sweetness, and these are growing. If nothing else, he has made it much more bearable to be home these past weeks. He's entertaining and engaging and keeps me on my toes. While he might not be the most amiable pet, he is still my little furry companion.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Season of Gratitude

I think what I am most grateful for right now is having a goal. I'm going to be at Art Walk this Thursday with some friends from school and I've been working to get items ready. I've also been working on inventorying the items that we already have for the future gaming/comic shop. I'm also hoping to start writing my first book soon. I'm just not sure which idea I want to focus on... Either way, I'm glad to have something to do. I'd love a paying a job, but at least I'm keeping busy!

Review: Buddy Fruits

I found these cute little things in the produce section at Wal-mart. At first I was surprised at the appearance in said store, but then I was intrigued. I decided to buy a couple of packs to try, at 88 cents a piece it wasn't too much of an investment.

Buddy Fruits Pure Fruit Bites are gummy fruit snacks which count as a serving of fruit! They're made by Buddy Fruits and under 100 calories a pack, a decent little snack. On the package it tells you exactly which fruits went into your package of gummies. There's no additives, dyes, preservatives, dairy, and if I remember correctly they are also gluten-free. This makes them seem like quite the awesome treat, especially for kids with food sensitivities or those who seek to keep a natural diet.

They come in four flavors: orange, apple, raspberry, and pomegranate & acai. Philip and I tried the orange and apple flavors. I preferred the orange, he preferred the apple. I noticed that they had a little bit of an aftertaste, similar to what you usually get from health food type snacks. Philip pinpointed that it was from the lemon which is often used as a natural preservative.

Other than that little bit of an after taste, I liked them. I think they would be great for kids, especially if you start them on these instead of the conventional gummy candies. They might not replace my gummy worms, but they've got a good chance of ending up in my shopping cart again.

You can find more information on this and link over to the company's other products here. The company also makes fruit smoothies and pure blended fruit in drinkable containers.

I chose to review this product without incentive from the producing company.