April 29, 2009

How Does a Family of Three Have Fun For Free?

Hola, bloggity friends! Given the current state of finances and the economy in general, Jason and I have come up with some creative ways to entertain and be entertained without spending a cent. And I'm going to let you in on our secrets.

Some Ideas for Free Fun:

  • Rent movies and borrow books from the library.
  • Walk or hike in regional, state, or national parks (some parks require you to buy a pass, but the fee is usually nominal; our regional park out here is free).
  • Play visits with children to parks or beaches; bring along a picnic or invite some friends to join you!
  • Play card games or any games at all. Everyone has a few . . .
  • Walk the mall with your child. He doesn't have to spend money to have fun looking at all the colorful items in the stores and riding the escalator up and down.
  • Plan a girls' night out, while daddies stay home with the children. Have some much-needed girl time painting nails and eating popcorn.

These are some of the things we're doing to minimize spending and yet keep our sanity. I'm sure there are more.

What fun things do you do when money is tight?

April 24, 2009

April Fool's Cometh Late

Spaghetti and Meatballs?
Or . . .

. . . cleverly disguised Cupcakes?

Everything you see here is an illusion (I've always wanted to say that!). Everything you see here is also edible (well, except for the paper liners . . . you could eat them if you wanted to, but I don't recommend it). And everything here is SWEET. Even though your eyes may tell you otherwise.
These are Spaghetti Cupcakes. But really, they are vanilla cupcakes, with frosting noodles, hazelnut-chocolate Ferrero "meatballs", strawberry preserves, and grated white chocolate "parmesan cheese." Sneaky, sneaky, eh? Everyone at bible study last night LOVED 'em. Especially when I shouted "April Fool's!" and revealed just how date-challenged I am.
I've been pouring over this book I got at the library. It's called "Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen Tack. Maybe 'pouring' isn't the right word. 'Drooling' or 'Purring' might be more appropriate. Anyway, this book gives all sorts of nifty and easy ideas for decorating cupcakes. Everything from animals (pandas, penguins, lions, etc.) to garden plots to goldfish bowls. I love this book. I take it to bed at night and snuggle up with it on my pillow.
No, not really. Sheesh, what kind of nut do you think I am??
What I especially love about this book is how ridiculously easy these cupcakes are. You don't need any fancy equipment or expensive materials. You can use ziplock bags instead of pastry bags. You can use everyday candy, such as runts, licorice, Starbursts, MnMs, or oreos to achieve culinary wonders. And the book shows you how to do it. Step by step. One marshmallow at a time.

I made these cupcakes from scratch, but the book tells you how you can use a box cake mix, plus a few other unorthodox ingredients, to make the "mix" taste just as good as "from scratch" (and with a little less work).
And LeAnna, the reason why I didn't make the frosting from scratch is because the book recommened canned vanilla frosting from a store as the best the author has found yet. Certain types of frosting won't hold their shape well, and Ms. Tack says that for shaping certain designs, store-bought is best. (Of course, for other types of decoration, frosting consistency doesn't matter; therefore, the author also offers several recipes for buttercream, ganache, and cream cheese frosting).

I had a blast making these, and I already have several other ideas lined up I want to try. I'll keep you posted!

April 20, 2009


I'm posting today because I said I would, not because I feel like it.

Briefly put, Jason didn't get the job. We're feeling a bit stung by this, since he went through three interviews, and after the one on Friday, they asked him for his references. He worked hard all weekend contacting his old boss and manager, and they wrote him really nice reviews. But all for naught, apparently. Grrrrrr.

We're waiting for a miracle now. We need one. Please keep us in your prayers.

April 19, 2009

I can hear the "Awww"s from here

Just thought I'd share this with you on a fine April afternoon:

Doesn't it just shout "SPRING!"?

April 17, 2009

So We Wait a Little More

Hey ya'll! Just wanted to let you know that Jason's interview went well, but the company isn't announcing their decision until Monday. =p So I will post something here Monday to let you guys know what happens.

In other news, Caleb has been running a fever all day (it was 101.5 when we last checked), so if you could pray for him, I'd appreciate it. We don't have insurrance at the moment, so that kinda complicates things. He's still got his appetite, though, so he musn't be feeling too poorly. :)

Thanks, everyone. Have a great Friday night!

Waiting Quietly This Friday Afternoon

Today is warmer than yesterday. Warm enough for me to rethink the jeans I'm wearing. Shorts sound so much better.

I sit at the computer (obviously). The dishwasher hums in my ears. Caleb sleeps quietly in his room, hopefully sleeping away the fever he woke up with this morning. All the windows are open, welcoming in Spring. My kitchen is clean. (Except for the floors. If you happen to stop by this afternoon, please do not look at the floors. I'd really appreciate it. I have an image to maintain).

I'm wondering what I should make for dinner. That cheddar potato chowder recipe I've been wanting to try? Or maybe something a little easier. I have leftover shredded beef in the fridge. Mmmm, the possibilities of shredded beef!

I'm also listening. Intently. Listening intently for the purr of our Chevy Cavalier. Jason drove it to his interview earlier today. After two hours, he still isn't home, and he doesn't have the cell phone with him. If he gets the job, I won't know till he drives into the parking lot. If he doesn't, well, same situation.

I did some math while I was cleaning, and I figured this is the longest Jason's been away from home since he lost his job in February. The house feels a bit empty without him; at the same time, there's something familiar about his absence.

This is how life used to be, isn't it? Ah, yes. I remember. Quiet afternoons spent alone while Caleb naps. Reading books. Doing dishes. Planning dinner. Waiting for hubby to come home from work.

I remember this life. Even if I haven't lived it for two months. Maybe making the transition back to employment won't be as hard as I thought.

Hello, old friend. Stop and stay a while. :)

April 13, 2009

"Change Will Come As Surely As the Seasons and Twice as Quick"


I hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday yesterday. We sure did. Some good friends of ours, whom we haven't seen in over a year, joined us for the day. We went to church and heard a wonderful sermon from our pastor. Sitting out in the open air of our church's courtyard somehow enhanced the feel of the day and made it extra special. :) Especially since the weather cooperated and the day was perfect.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Today was another beautiful day, quiet and peaceful. We took Caleb to the lake this afternoon and watched some ducks fight while he threw rocks in the water. Today was nice, relaxing, restful. But something tells me these days will soon be over.

Jason's interview went very well last week; thanks to all of you for praying!! He has another interview this Friday, and there's a good chance he'll get the job. We are very excited; the Lord at last is opening a door for us just as we prayed He would.

But even though this is good news, it also heralds more change. Jason's been out of work for nearly two months now; we've grown accustomed to having him home all the time. Once he starts a new job, that will change. I'll go back to solo-parenting during the week. I won't be able to leave the house whenever I want. Caleb will miss his daddy.

*Sigh* I'm not very good at change. Even when it's necessary, even when I see it coming and rejoice because it is coming. I'm still not very good at change.

I like having my husband home. :)

But change is good, even when it's uncomfortable and inconvenient. Maybe especially then. Without it, life would be unbearably boring. And I would never grow.

Yes, change is good. Having money in the bank is good, too. ;) I knew my husband wouldn't stay unemployed forever; I never wanted him to, either. But there's always a bittersweet moment when you come home from a wonderful vacation and realize it's over. I welcome Jason going back to work even as I sigh for these lazy, quiet days that will come a little less frequently.

April 9, 2009

Prayer, Please!

Just wanted to ask ya'll to pray tomorrow.

Jason has a job interview. Well, it's a phone interview, but still. It's the right kind of job, and it pays well. And Jason has been like a kid at Christmas ever since he got the initial call this morning from the company. :)

So please be prayin'. We'd really like to get this job. We're really hoping it's God's will.

Thanks friends. :)

April 8, 2009

I Like Alternate Universes

In an alternate universe, my week would have passed very differently.

I would have taken Caleb to his speech group yesterday and had a meeting with our case worker while Caleb played with Miss Kimberly and the other children. I would have gone to work yesterday afternoon to tutor for a couple of hours; never mind the students are on Spring Break. I don't think Korea's ever heard of giving children a chance to just rest and play.

In an alternate universe, I would have attended our church's craft night last night with Allyl and gone to the park with Amy and her two boys this morning. I would have tutored again this afternoon, probably with a movie and a question sheet since I don't think kids should have to work hard during their vacations. ;)

But God (and my body, it seems) have had different plans and I didn't get to do any of those things. Instead, I've been in bed (or the bathroom) since Monday night, fighting off the worst flu bug I've seen in a while. I'll spare ya'll the gritty details :), but suffice it to say, I've been knocked flat on my back. Literally.

So instead of going places and seeing people, being the busy bee I so love to be, I've been watching movies, sleeping lots, and working my way through the third book in the Annals of the Chosen series. Oh, and losing weight on the Flu Bug, can't-keep-anything-down-so-why-bother-eating diet. It's amazing, let me tell you! I'm thinking of writing a book.

Obviously, I'm feeling better today or else I wouldn't be blogging. I could barely even read at all yesterday because printed words brought on waves of nausea. (The same thing happened when I was pregnant and had morning sickness; I couldn't read my bible, or anything else, for several weeks because it just made me sick. Go figure.)

But even though I'm feeling better today, I'm still staying in bed for various reasons. It's kinda peaceful, just resting. There's really nothing else I can do, because I haven't recovered much strength back to be doing anything. I must rest, because I don't have much other choice. I have to wonder if God planned it that way.

I'm not one to rest much in general. I'm an On The Go kind of girl. I like to pack things in, plan too much, over-achieve. Just ask Jason. I drive him nuts with it sometimes. Over the years, though, God has taught me to relax just a little and not try to be Super Woman every day of my life. Jason's helped a lot, too, with his easy-going, laid back, carefree ways. Funny how opposites attract, huh? Funny how God shapes us and our spouses to fit each other exactly.

So when I find myself sick and all my plans have changed, I often wonder if it's God's way of telling me to slow down and take it easy for a while.

Hmmm, maybe taking time off now and then isn't such a bad idea? Maybe one day I'll be mature enough to actually take time off instead of waiting to get sick to do it.

April 6, 2009

Because I Can Be Terribly Old-Fashioned Sometimes . . .

Last week, we moved my tall pine bookcase/desk out of Caleb's room and into the livingroom. We did this because Caleb had figured out how to climb up the desk/bookcase and fling any and all contents of the shelves off onto the floor. While he was supposed to be napping.

We also moved it out because Caleb had found the hidden drawer beneath the desk and had redecorated his room with its contents, too. Among other things, he'd found a special box. I gasped when I saw it on his bedroom floor, because I'd forgotten all about it.

Two 19th-century style quill pens and one feather pen lay haphazardly in a pile of toys. The box itself lay upside down on the floor and scattered all about it were the eight different nibs that went with the pens. Calligraphy nibs, writing nibs, drawing nibs. Small, metallic, and very sharp. I gathered them up and counted them carefully. Not one was missing. Not one was broken. Caleb didn't have any new scratches, so he must not have played with them much.

Remembering immediately that I kept a bottle of ink in the box, too, I searched until I found it and sighed in relief that Caleb had not managed to open it. What a mess that would have been!

Bottled ink is messy. Just in case you were wondering.

I learned this truth the hard way, one afternoon during my senior year of college. I walked to school often that year, because Jason and I were sharing one car and we only lived two miles away from campus. Wednesdays were my long days. Classes started at noon and lasted until 8:30 pm or so. I had one long break in the late afternoon, which I usually spent in Finch Hall with Melody. Being an RA, she had to work the Box on Wednesday afternoons; so I joined her and kept her company while she sold candy, made change for laundry, and sorted mail. I used this time to rest, catch up on homework, and of course, chat with Mel.
This particular day, I had Theater homework to finish. I decided on a whim to take my ink set along in my backpack and complete the homework using a quill pen and real ink. You know, just to switch things up a bit. Mechanical pencils get so boring after a while. And besides, I can be terribly old-fashioned sometimes . . .

The ink, pen, and nib spent the better part of an hour bouncing around in my backpack while I walked to school; they bobbed and waited patiently while I attended three classes; they bounced around some more as I walked to Finch Hall.

Where I upzipped the side pocket on my backpack and found, to my dismay, a miniature Ink Lake. It took several paper towels to clean up the mess and my fingers were stained for a couple days afterward. Mel, thankfully, was on the phone the whole time. I don't think she knows, to this day, what happened. And since it was a side pocket, nothing was ruined.

So what did I do when I'd finished the damage control? Continued with my homework as planned, of course! I turned it in later that night, half written in pencil, half in quill pen.

Why do I even have quill pens, you ask? Because in my opinion, they're just plain fun. They are pretty, delicate, a throw back to the 1800s and a time far gone. A period of time I have loved since I was a child. A quill makes you write really slowly, because you run out of ink quickly and must dip your pen often. Thus, writing is punctuated with many pauses, during which you are free to think of what you really want to say. There's something elemental about quills; the ink is raw and dangerous. The nibs are sharp and defined. You must know what you are doing; you must be ever alert. A spill could ruin the paper you are writing on and stain your clothes; a nib, used to harshly, with too much force, will tear the paper and wrek its own ruin.

A quill pen must be coaxed. You must work with it, or it will work against you.

When I saw my ink box lying helter-skelter in Caleb's room, I had another whim. Why not take it to class with me and give my Korean students a chance to have fun with ink and pens and words?

Jason laughed at me and told me I would spill the ink again (he knows about my little mishap senior year). If I did not spill it, someone else would. He was sure.

Here's my students writing with the quills last week:

I am pleased to report no ink was spilled. =) My students had a great time; so did I. I think I'll take the set back this week and have the students write their names in Korean. Wouldn't that be pretty?
Not all my whims are bad. :) Just old-fashioned sometimes. . .

April 2, 2009

In the Jungle, the Lion Naps Today

Caleb is crazy. No argument there. My husband and I have debated on whether he is Tarzan incarnate, a junior Tazmanian Devil, or just a super-uber-on-the-go-energetic little boy.

He is the Boy Who Throws Plastic Penguins Into Shark Aquariums, the Boy Who Faces Down Homicidal Swans, the Boy Who Thinks He's a Fish. And there's no denying that Destructo-Boy is his super-hero alter ego.

But when he sleeps, he's just a perfect little angel. :)

April 1, 2009

It Lives!

Hurray! It lives!

We had a few hairy moments there yesterday when Blogger decided to hate me. But we kissed and made up, and I'm oh-so-happy with the results!!!

A big thank-you to LeAnna for showing me how to keep my background "static." :)

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Ashleigh!!! (Today is the right day, right?? Just kidding, just kidding ;)