So I made a basket of “my favorite things” to donate to Mandy’s Water Raffle.

She is rocking it over there with some really cool things.

Description of my basket below. :)

unnamed.jpg

unnamed-1.jpg

Some books from my Favorite Authors. (New copies of these 4 books in basket)

Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner

Cannot get enough of him. Hang on his every word.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brene Brown

One of her first books and I think my favorite. Must read for every person on the planet.

Turn My Mourning into Dancing by Henri Nouwen

Nouwen’s voice calms me. And this book gets revisited often.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

This one is new for me. But I LOVED this book. Am going back to read everything he has ever written.———

Bookmark Clips.  You can read all these books at the same time with these….


My favorite Burts Bees chapstick.  How anyone lives without this, I do not know.

Ice Chips. These are my new fascination too. They are supposed to be good for your teeth. And they have no sugar. But they are really good. And really fun to eat.

Lavender and Lilac Lemonade. Honestly. This just looked really good. I couldn’t justify buying it for myself, but I bought it for you. Let me know how it goes. :)

Some treats from my corner of the country. We do chocolate and coffee well. Seattle Chocolate bar and Chehalis Mints.

And if you come to Olympia, and I’ll take you to coffee.


————–My travel must haves:

Ginger chews. These babies have saved the day so many times for me when motion sickness starts to take over in an airplane or the back of a jeep somewhere…

Colgate Wisps. You guys. The best. In my purse. In my car. Always. They will change your life.

Green Tea Mints.  2 mints are equal to a cup of green tea. That’s supposed to be good for us, right? But really, they just taste good so I like them.

————————————————————————————

So you need to donate on Mandy’s Water page and then leave a comment on her blog for which items you are bidding on.All the details over there. :)

How To Be A Below-Average Housewife. Tip #1.

Forgo flowers and go with basketballs instead. They require no water, sunshine, or pruning…and they are useful.

1016140_10151854687707073_1463173197_n.jpg

How To Be A Below-Average Housewife. Tip #2.

A sock bucket. Straight out of dryer, socks are paired and put into a collective sock bucket. Everyone is responsible for finding their own socks each morning as they get dressed. Pretty sure this alone has saved me hours of time in sorting and putting away duties…

(If this makes you twitch, don’t do it. But if you have the vision for it, it’s basically genius).

58860_10151854742542073_1937295676_n.jpg

How To Be A Below-Average Housewife. Tip #3.

Silverware Bucket. Along the same lines as the sock bucket, all silverware goes directly from dishwasher into bucket..which sits on kitchen table. No drawer dividers needed. No precious time wasted sorting. And it turns out, children are capable of finding their own spoon from a bucket of mixed silverware…

#amIchangingyourlifeyet??

1505067_10151854770127073_89033438_n.jpg

How To Be A Below-Average Housewife. Tip #4.

Find a friend who likes to bake/cook. Go to her house, sit in her kitchen, drink coffee, make her laugh and watch her bake.

If you look pathetic enough, she will send you home with a plate of cookies. Present it to your husband saying, “I made you cookies.”

How To Be A Below-Average Housewife. Tip #5.


Take fruit that is about to go bad…oranges, lemons, apples, pears, cranberries. Put in a pot with water and cinnamon. Simmer on the stove.

If I’m at home, I have this going. It calms me. And covers up the pee smell.#6boyslivehere

1538721_10151854879427073_285558829_n.jpg

Pre-Christmas Eve services.

Christmas Eve services has always meant me sitting alone with many small children.

Ten years ago someone scolded me for not keeping my row of little boys quiet and still.

I still get teary thinking about it.

And I still can’t guarantee their perfect behavior even though some of them are taller than me now…

1e906eca4b953602b6022d9fc0bc2704.jpeg

But now we just invite all the loud families who can’t keep their hands off each other and don’t have enough adults to separate their children to sit next to us.

Nothing but grace and a good time over in our corner.

————

And even in our loud corner, I get chocked up every time Andy sings this song…

“Heaven kissed the earth tonight. Love found a way. On this unsuspecting silent night.

Lift up your eyes. There is hope for all mankind.

Love found a way. Heaven kissed the earth tonight.”

And from our mess of a family, we are most thankful that love indeed found a way.

unnamed-1.jpg

———

We enjoyed a laid back Christmas just the 8 of us.

On Christmas Eve, I dropped the apple pie.

e7e2224a8041db570402ae66a8f26e7c.jpeg

I said cuss words. And did some deep breathing.

And then rejoined the party in the living room.

Christmas Day I burned the monkey bread.

And somehow the roast in the crockpot was left unplugged for who knows how long.

My meal prep was not spot on.

——

The kids were excited and really grateful this year. It’s super fun having “big” kids too.

Our teenager is still not a morning person….clearly.

5f57cd59f2654951484e9e2d0299c4a9.jpeg

But all in all.

It was delightful.

IMG_5564.JPG

——

And ever overwhelmed by projects looming over my head, by 10:00 AM this morning my tree was down and decorations stored….

Merry Christmas, all.

“When I mute my heart to the insult of grace, I deny your cross. When I think, even for one moment, that my obedience merits anything, I deny your cross. When I put others under the microscope and measure of performance-based living, I deny your cross. When I wallow in self-contempt and shame, I deny your cross. When I’d rather do penance than repentant faith, I deny your cross. When I believe the condemning lies of Satan, I deny your cross. When I think of me more highly than others, I deny your cross.”

(Scotty Smith, full prayer here)

Things to say.

Without the time to process.

Makes me a little jumpy.

But I’m hoping I can find the time soon.

Until then.

This was a nice attempt:

IMG_5516.JPG

This was better. And over in 2.5 seconds. That’s what happens when everyone decides to cooperate on the same day…

IMG_5518.JPG

They are quite the crew.

And my heart is certainly going to explode one of these days.

andrewlandersmainstreets.jpg

Andy and company have finally released a new album.

Cover is the cutest.

Music is pretty amazing.

And I’m really super duper proud of him.

#9 is my all-time favorite Christmas song ever. Ever. I listen to it all year long.

Other favorites include #1, 3, 8 and the remake of #10.

You can buy the CD or download the music here.

Enjoy!

Happy Listening.

Have I told you about the Coal boxes this year??

OK. Well. Here we go.

Real quick. Here’s the WHY:

—Toxic smoke is the number one killer of children under 5 in the developing world.

—Families in Haiti can spend up to 40% of their income on the coal for cooking.

—The charcoal efficient stoves that we fund in Haiti drastically reduce the toxic smoke emissions and cut down on the coal needed by 50%

—This saves the family much needed money.

—The reduced coal use also saves 6 trees a year!

—AND the program in Haiti provides JOBS for those building the stoves and selling them in the market.

SO….the Coal boxes this year are super fun.

The lump is coal is actually handmade soap so it can be used.

And every box ($20) helps get a stove to a family in Haiti.

And basically, everyone who is on your Nice List probably wants a Coal box….

1483341_746842545329195_630219907_n.jpg

BUY them here.

1487344_745218082158308_695010010_n.png

(Feel free to grab the above images to help us sell as many Coal boxes/stoves as possible this year. Best gift ever.)

————

OK. Wait. I got to thinking about this in the shower…. :)

So it costs roughly $200 to send a child to school in Haiti. And the average annual income is $650.

Um. That $220 savings just took on a whole new light.

So imagine…we could potentially support a child’s education by sending $20 a month.

OR…we subsidize the cost of a stove so a family can afford to buy it. Family buys it and immediately starts saving about $20 a month. They then can potentially afford to send a child to school on their own. Or buy more food. Or start small businesses. Or whatever they want or need to do. You know, because they are human beings.

And they do not realize probably that we even played a small part in making the stoves available.

They just get to take care of their families better.

They pay for their kid’s tuition.

They buy their own food.

They provide a safer, healthier environment of their kids.

So I’m thinking.

That’s the coolest thing ever.

Such smart giving. Smart investing.

I’m in love with it all over again.

OK.

Carry on.

——————————

When you have a family of 8 on a restricted budget…we don’t travel real well.

Quick getaways and little vacations just don’t happen.

Add in the fact that we now have teenagers and also “littles”….it is challenging to find activities that everyone can agree on.

The one steady thing we do all do together is our basketball gym time.

So on Thanksgiving. And the next day. And today.

This is where we will be.

IMG_5485.JPG

There was a 4 on 4 game…of which I am always a big contributor to my team…

Then a round of one of one games.

“Things are a changing around here, Dad.”

IMG_5494.JPG

IMG_5498.JPG

IMG_5487.JPG

Andy clearly works a little bit hard than I do at Family Basketball Day…

IMG_5499.jpg

IMG_5502.JPG

I hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year.

It was one of the first times ever.

I knew I was in trouble when it took me all of 45 seconds to sit down and plan the menu.

And then yesterday morning, I realized that I don’t own salt and pepper shakers.

And I have one wine glass.

And we were all unsure if any of the four knives I have here would actually cut the turkey.

It was determined that I was, in fact, the worst host ever.

6ecd6633c2d53219ea056e9678a89eb6.jpeg

We did, however, make a fun day of it.

And I thought it all tasted great—didn’t look awesome, but no one seemed to care.

And it was laid back and relaxing and I was thankful.

——

I did request a family picture.

And this is as far as I got before I surrendered…

IMG_5475.JPG

Christmas card material for sure.

I have to pick my battles.

——

Nana and Papa did buy everyone Duck sweatshirts.

So they got a bit more cooperation….

IMG_5476.jpg

So turns out that being the “new kid” is the worst thing imaginable…for ME.

Zeke, on the other hand, is a rockstar.

He did awesome.

No big deal.

He’s got this.

———————————

And for extreme introverts all over the world, she nailed it. :)

“I live so far deeply inside of my head that if the phone rings- it feels terrifying and presumptuous and aggressive and rude to me. Every time my phone rings it is as if I am naked in a hot bath, deep in prayer and silence and somebody just flings open the bathroom door, walks right in, jumps into the tub with me, grabs my soap and shrilly announces: HELLO. I’D LIKE TO TALK NOW. HOPE THAT’S FINE. And I’m like . . . hi. okay. but I’m busy thinking and being all by myself. You have stunned me. You are loud and scary.”

(Glennon Doyle Melton)

The whole post is just so spot on.