I'm a full-time wife and mom of two adorable boys. When I'm not busy trying to keep up with them I enjoy photography, traveling, planning parties and a little bit of reading.

In February of 2008 I was diagnosed with an incurable terminal lung illness, though God promised me a full and complete healing. While we wait for His timing, we're taking it one day at a time, and standing in awe of how God's using all of this for His glory. The tough road we've traveled has given us a new perspective on the fragility of life. Memories are more important to us than ever before. The goal of this blog is to share some of our family life - the ups and downs, the joys and probably some of the pains as well. It's mostly meant as a personal journal of sorts, but you're welcome to share in it. We'd like to take this opportunity to say ...


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Built-in Inspiration

A friend and his family will be coming to visit for a long weekend, the end of April.  They're gonna visit the Pittsburgh Zoo, and our kids and their kids are gonna have a blast just playing together!  He's hoping to build us (with Aaron, of course) some built-ins for Alex's room while they're here.  (He's a carpenter, with four kids of his own, so that kinda multi-tasking shouldn't be a problem for him. *grin*)  The built-in is going to go along this wall in Alex's room - the one with the window on it.

Alex's room has been painted a pale yellow (per his request demand).  Well, technically he wanted "school bus yellow," but we bought pale yellow.

So ... the room's been painted, the date's been set, and all that remains is me to figure out what I want them to look like.  I want them to be able to "grow" with him, so maybe what's under the window will be a desk area, with space to push in a chair?  I'm not sure.  This morning I decided it was time to search the net for inspiration photos, and here's what I've come up with so far.
(Excuse the poor blog-etiquite, I have no idea where these pics are from, I just did a google search and saved a bunch of the pics.)

Hmmmmm.  Possibly the general idea - but just the part that's on the window wall.

Not bad, if it had some shelving too.  My kid's got a lot of books.  But the bottom right cabinet would be great for storing his board games.

That's kinda cute - maybe a little too "modern" for the rest of the furniture in the room.  Maybe it's just the color scheme that's throwing me.

That's not bad.  Maybe if the dimensions of Alex's room were different.

So cute, but not for him.  That bookcase's the same shape as the dark-wood ones that are in his room right now.

Interesting.  That'd be quite cute for a play room, but the table'd take up way too much room in a bedroom.

I like this.  Of course I do - it's from the Pottery Barn.  I generally like their stuff.

Get rid of the primary colors - the star pulls, the drums, and the snow.  Then maybe I'll consider this one.

Interesting use of that wall.  It reminds me of something from National Velvet, though.  I have no idea why.

Ummm. Let's pretend I could ignore the colors in this picture.  The built-ins is too boring.

Drool, sigh, I'm in love.  I think this last one might be it.

Hmmm. We have a "contemporary" home, with NO moulding anywhere so far.  I wonder if we could pull that look off?  Maybe they'll need more than just one day to build. Hmmm.

Monday, March 29, 2010

MOVING - Packing Tips

I can't believe it's already been 5 months since we moved across state for Aaron's new job.  Wow, that seems like such a long time.  Since then, I've had 4 separate people ask me for moving tips (the most recent one was yesterday).  So - here's post #1 on PACKING TIPS.

You can buy boxes from Uhaul (and return any unused ones), or get them for FREE from grocery stores, etc.  If you're gonna go for 'free' - make sure you start collecting them FAR in advance!  Generally after boxes are emptied at the store / restaurant / etc., they're broken down and put in the crusher, so make sure to ask the store what the best time of day is to come get some.  If you do a google search, you can usually find cheap (or even FREE) boxes other people have used for moving.  

There's no point buying rolls of wrapping paper (in most circumstances) because newspaper works just fine.  (This time around, I did use rolled paper for our wedding china, but everything else was newspaper.)  Most friends won't mind saving their newspapers for you before a big move.  It takes MUCH MORE newspaper than you'd expect (if you're really gonna protect your possessions), so SAVE TONS of newspaper.  Then if you have any left over, just recycle it. (And after you unpack, recycle what you used too.)

Items in dressers (desks, etc.) stay in dressers (etc.).  It's awfully nice to get to your new place, and not have to sort through boxes for clean underwear!  Also, it saves time (not having to pack those items) and space (no point in the dressers sitting in the truck empty)!  So, the guys just remove the drawers before carrying the dresser (etc) to the truck, and put the drawers back in once in the truck.  Then they repeat the process at the new house.

Items on hangers stay on hangers.  I generally save up dry cleaning bags to cover them so they stay clean, but garbage bags work just as fine.  Uhaul sells big boxes with rods, so that your clothes hang on a rod while moving, but I think that's a waste of money.  Most moving trucks have spots where they can hang up, or if not, then they can easily lay across the back seat of a car.

Mark EACH box ON TOP and on ONE SIDE with which room it will go TO at the new place, as well as a detailed list of what's inside.  Of course, it helps if you've had a chance to think about which room you want what at the new place.  Inevitably some boxes will sit unopened for a couple months, and you'll still be able to find your garden spade when the time comes to use it.  Also, this helps right after you move in, when you make spaghetti, and suddenly realize you haven't unpacked the colander yet.  If all the unopened boxes are stacked along a wall (and you wrote the items on the side as well), you will know what's in each box, and won't have to move each one to read the list (that's written on the top).  Writing the contents both places will save you tons of extra moving and annoyance!

Mark any FRAGILE and HEAVY boxes accordingly on ALL sides of the box.  If the men aren't careful with a box, and don't know that your grandmother's china is inside, then it's YOUR fault.  But, if the box is clearly marked 'fragile' on all sides ... then the men know that their very life hangs in the balance while they carry that box.  It's also only fair that the men know before hand that the box they're about to pick up weighs as much as a Mini Cooper.

As you get boxes packed, pile them all in a particular room, or particular part of a room.  This helps you be able to still walk around them, and maintain some level of 'normalcy' in your life through the packing process.  Also, it's encouraging as you eventually notice how much IS packed and how LITTLE remains to be done.

Don't pack your blankets - use them to wrap furniture.  Don't pack your towels in a box by themselves - use them to wrap fragile things in boxes. Borrow all the blankets you can get from friends.  Even during the most careful of moves, furniture that's not completely covered will get nicks in it.  We didn't borrow enough blankets, and yes, our furniture got banged up.  The guys did the best they could - I just didn't have enough on hand for them to use (and I had A LOT of blankets!).  Ideally, furniture should he completely covered by a thick blanket.

... That should be a good spot to stop for now. HAPPY PACKING!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Powerful Prayers - Part 2


by B.J. Reinhard

One of the most loving and helpful things a wife can do for her husband and marriage is to pray.  Although the following prayers have been written primarily with a Christian husband in mind, most of them can easily be adapted for an unbelieving spouse.

Peace.  Lord, as my husband faces another day of challenges, reveal Your deep love to him.  May your peace rule in his heart. (1 Jn 4:18, Col 3:15)

Strength.  Thank You, Lord, for daily bearing my husband's burdens.  Remind him that You uphold him - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Refresh him with a sense of Your presence. (Ps 68:19, Col 1:17, Jer 31:25)

Intimacy with God.  Lord, remind ______ of Your deep, personal knowledge of him, and assure him that he can pour out his heart to You.  May his walk with You be more than an intellectual exercise.  Reveal Yourself to him so that he can know and worship You as You are. (Ps 62:8, 139:1-4, Jer 9:24, Jn 14:21)

Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit, thank You that You live in and reveal truth to my husband.  Teach him to live in Your power - filled with, motivated by, and in step with You.  May he listen to Your voice and follow wherever You lead. (Jn 16:13-14, Gal 5:16, 22-25, Is 30:21)

Significance.  Lord, show _______ how valuable he is to You.  May he know that his true worth comes from You. (Mt. 6:26, Jer 29:11, Zeph 3:17)

Success.  Cultivate in my husband a diligence and desire to do his best for You.  Establish the work of his hands, and grant him success.  Direct him into roles best suited to his gifts, talents, and personality. (Col 3:23, Ps 90:17, 139:13-15)

Finances.  Lord, as my husband provides materially for our family, help him to serve You, not money.  Enable him to rest in Your provision. (Mt 6:24, Gen 22:14, Phil 4:19)

Perseverance.  Strengthen ________ with faith and patience in the difficulties he faces.  Assure him that You are with him and are working all things together for good. (Eph 3:16-17, Col 1:11, Ro 8:28, 38-39)

Spiritual protection.  Lord, protect my husband from the temptations he faces today, especially concerning ________ (name specific area of temptation).  Teach him to guard what enters his mind, to focus on You, and to resist the enemy by faith. (1 Cor 10:13, Col 3:1-2, Jas 4:7, Jn 5:4-5)

Sexual purity.  Lord, Satan would twist ________'s God-given desire for sex into something ugly.  Prompt him to turn to You for safety and freedom from lust, pornography, sexual fantasies, and inappropriate relationships.  Let him find acceptance and satisfaction in You and within the context of our marriage. (Ps 90:14, Prov 5:15-20, Heb 13:4)

Influence.  Thank You, Shepherd, for leading my husband as he interacts with and leads others - at home, at work, and in our church and community.  Enable him to set a good example for and love those under his care. (Is 40:11, Acts 20:28, Titus 2:7-8)

Marriage.  Lord, on his own, my husband cannot fulfill Your desire for him to love me as You love the church.  But You are love, and You live in him.  Teach him how You want to love me through him. (Eph 5:25, 1 Jn 4:8, 2 Cor 4:7)

Vulnerability.  Lord, give _______ the courage to share his innermost thoughts and feelings with me.  Grant me the grace to listen with acceptance and to share honestly with him. (Prov 31:10-12, Ro 15:1-3)

Fatherhood.  Be my husband's wisdom in the challenges we face as parents.  Teach him how to relate to and love our children the way You, our heavenly Father, relate to us. (1 Cor 1:30, Ps 103:8-14, Prov 3:12, Eph 6:4)

Friends.  Lord, bring my husband friends with whom he can share his joys and struggles - friends who speak frankly with him and remind him of Your love and power.  Show him how to be a good friend in return. (Prov 18:24, 27:6, Eccl 4:9-12)

Loving others.  Give my husband courage and opportunities to share Your love with others in words and actions.  When people frustrate him, help him to respond in humility and peace.  When he sins against others or is sinned against, guide him to ask and grant forgiveness.  May those who interact with him touch Your light and life. (2 Thess 2:16-17, Col 3:12-14, Phil 2:14-16)

Physical protection.  Keep my husband safe and healthy.  Teach him to care for his body, and heal his diseases, especially ___________ (name specific ailments). (3 Jn 1:2, Ps 103:2-3)

Passion or life.  Father show my husband his true purpose for living, especially in areas that seem mundane.  May Paul's claim, "to live is Christ," always be true for my husband. (Jn 4:13-14, 6:35, Phil 1:21)

To subscribe to Pray!, call 1-800-691-PRAY.  For other prayer cards and resources, call 1-800-366-7788. www.praymag.com

Powerful Prayers - Part 1

A year or two ago I used to meet with 2 women in leadership at our church for prayer once a week.  Actually the prayer time was open to ALL women in the church, but I was the only one who showed up every week (except one) and stayed the whole time.  I spent probably 75% of my hour sitting on a couch, silently praying in my head (and socializing the other 25%).  The prayer time was focused on our marriages - I happen to have a GREAT marriage, but extra prayer never hurt anything, so I went anyway.  Near the beginning of my going, one of the women gave me a photocopied paper (put out by www.prayermag.com) entitled "Powerful Prayers for your Husband." 

Before I continue, let me stress that it's dangerous (and wrong on so many levels) to marry a guy thinking that you can change him, or even that he'll WANT to change for you.  That's NOT how it works!  Marriage has a way of making negative characteristics (in both partners) even MORE predominant.  Personally, I also think it's wrong to pray constantly, "God, please change him... he this ... he that ...."  The type of prayers we SHOULD be praying in relation to our husbands are more like "God, please change ME.  Help me to be a better wife.  Help me to understand his stresses better so I can be more supportive in appropriate ways.  Help him to lean on You, when his burden is heavy..."

Now, back to my Thursday evening prayer meetings.  All Aaron knew was that I was meeting with Candace and Sonya for prayer at 6, so he made sure he was home from work to watch the kids so I could leave on time.  A couple weeks into the (2 or 3 months??) that I went, Aaron asked me what I pray about.  I asked what he thought.  He responded that I was praying for him, and then he listed off 3 specific areas in his life.  HE WAS EXACTLY RIGHT!  I was SHOCKED because even the women didn't know the topics of my prayers.  He said that he's noticed certain changes in aspects of his life, and could only account the changes to be the result of my praying (because he wasn't praying about those topics at that point in time).  I continued to pray about those three areas (3 of the topics on the handout) faithfully once a week for 30-45 minutes, for a couple months.  I can't even begin to explain the remarkable, transformative changes we both witnessed in his life!!!

During the months when I met at the church for weekly prayer, I was still in the initial phases of gaining strength after my diagnosis, so my mental facilities weren't exactly up to speed.  I found even remembering my son's birthdate difficult, let alone being "creative" praying.  So, actually I mostly read the little blurbs over and over and over again.  I think that sometimes God answers prayer because of our consistency in praying for something.  It's not our eloquence that matters - it's our sincerity.  

I was sooooooo impressed by the transformative power of prayer, that I photocopied the handout and sent it to several girlfriends.  Once the weekly prayer meetings ended (because of the busyness of the holidays), my deliberate prayer for my husband began to dwindle.  Lately I've begun to feel a pressing need to start up again.  It's NOT that "he's in need of some prayer" - it's just been laid on my heart again.  So, earlier this week I found the paper, pulled it out, sat down, and had a chat with Our Father.

I'd like to share it with you.  I don't know what situation you're going through right now - I don't know where your marriage stands... But even the most perfect of people could use a little prayer support.  I know I sure could.  So, I'll do a second post with the handout words on it - there's no way you'll be able to read everything in that photo.

As a wife, praying for your husband is one of the most valuable things you can do!  God wants what's best for your husband - and you do too (though sometimes we're mistaken about what's really best in the long term, eh?).  So, lift your husband up to the throne.  If you're genuine (and not just complaining to God) - God will answer.  It probably won't be the way you expected the answer to come - but He'll answer - and you and your husband will both be better because of it.  Some of the major (and difficult) changes in our lives these past two years were the result of those 3 areas about which I focused my prayer.  God answered my prayers.  Yes, I could see tangible "improvements" in those areas - but as a result of those answers - I was changed too!

Don't underestimate the power of prayer!  The power of sincere, well-meaning, non-egotistical, non-tattle-telling, non-demanding PRAYER.

It's Been Swell.....

Today the mercury will reach 68 here on Dogwood.

As the glorious sunshine works diligently to tidy up the landscape by melting the snow drifts,

I've decided it's time to pack away the final reminders of winter that are around the house.  

Last month there was more snowfall in Pittsburgh than any other month in recorded history.  

It's been swell ... but the swelling's gone down.  

I'm ready for some SPRING!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Heat Wave

Yesterday the thermometer hit 38 - an absolute heat wave!  Never mind the snow still on the ground - it's melted enough that we can now see some plants peeking out - it's practically shorts and sandals weather!  I asked my honey to sweep all the cinders out of the garage, and he decided to surprise me by washing the cars too.

But I caught him in the act!  Isn't he AMAZING??!!??!!

Like I've said a million times before - save money one place so you can spend / save / invest it elsewhere.  My honey saved $12 yesterday by washing the cars by hand. I'm so glad that we agree on this philosophy - it makes the biggest difference that we're both on the same page.  We're not really frugal (or cheap) - we just deliberately pick and choose what we'll spend money on, and what we won't.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I've been asked by countless people to start a separate blog just about "couponing" and saving money in general. At first I thought these suggestions were "polite" comments made by people who've read some of my recent posts on the topic. But the more I've spoken with these people, the more I realized that they were serious. I wasn't sure I really had much else to say on the topic, but I've been convinced (by other people) otherwise.

So ... I've caved in ... and started "No June Cleaver." It's going to be primarily about saving money right now.  But eventually I'll probably branch out to discuss various other homemaking topics also - general "turning a house into a home" stuff. But for now, it's about saving money. As a Stay-at-home mom, my husband makes the money, and I feel that one of my responsibilities is to stretch it as far as I can (while still maintaining a "home" feeling).

I just posted my first "new" post on the new blog. So, if you're interested, go check the post out HERE - or the whole blog in general HERE. It's with Wordpress (and this one is on blogger), so please bear with me as I learn the new system.

Got Snow?

I've mentioned before how much snow my sister lives with all winter in Tahoe.  Practically 6 months of her year are spent with snow - and most of those require studded tires and/or chains just to get around town.  There's no "Sorry, Mrs. Boss-Lady, I can't make it into work today.  There's too much snow."  Instead, there's LOTS of shoveling (and weight loss), malfunctioning snow-blowers, waking up an extra hour or two early to dig the car out before work, and snow-blindness.

Yesterday she took a pic of her three year old playing outside - "shoveling."  She said that 1/3 of the last "dumping" of snow's melted already.  ONE-THIRD ... MELTED ALREADY!!??!!

Thank you, God, for NOT asking me to live THERE!  I'd go batty with that kinda snow all the time.  I'm sorry I've complained about what "little" we've gotten here - even though Pittsburgh had more snowfall in February than ANY other month in recorded history.  Thank you that I don't live in Tahoe.  I guess you really DO know what I can handle, and what I can't.  And, bless my sister - keep her back strong as she continues to shovel - and shovel - and shovel ... for a couple more MONTHS!