Sunday, February 3, 2013

Simply Thankful

Today is February 3rd. It's Austin's 3rd Birthday.  And--Alexis' 8 year homecoming-versary from her 130 day NICU stay.  I just put the kids down for a short nap and I am taking a few minutes to reflect.  We.Are.Blessed!  Catching everyday blessings was the original intent of this blog and I need to do a better job at documenting them.

We have so many things to be thankful for, but one thing I'm thankful for today is the health of both of our kids.  I remember the days of endless doctor appointments, prescriptions galore, therapists, and the list goes on. I do not miss those days and I do NOT take for granite the fact that our kids are healthy.  Praise God!

I'm also thankful for family.  We had my parents, grandparents, and each of my siblings and their families over for Austin's birthday celebration last night. Here are some of the highlights of the evening...
What is it, What is it???

It's a "fee wheeler"
Happy faces!

Mickey Mouse Cake...he was so excited!

Our evening entertainment...all toys that belong at Grandma and Grandpa's house we decided.  :)

Who needs toys when you have balloons??

What's not to love?  SO Blessed!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Busy but Blessed!

Some of you have asked me if we are doing 31 days of Nothing (January no-spend challenge) this year.  The answer?  No.   Why?  Simply put, we have too many irons in the fire right now.

What are we up to?
Well-- set some family goals for 2013 last weekend.

One of our family goals for 2013?

  • Eat "real" (non-processed) food.  
  • Our healthy eating goal is going to be the 80/20% rule. 
  • Eat real, whole foods 80% of the time.  With hardly-ever-home weekly schedule, it's too much of a stretch to say we'd eat real food 100% of the time.  We're striving for 80%.
  • Check out the resource I made for our healthy living goal, lifestyle change:

 What else have we been up to?

  • I took on a new role at school this semester.  I'm now a part-time special ed. teacher, part time reading/behavior interventionist.  I'm excited to use some of the things I've learned over the years to help more kids and teachers throughout our school.  It's busy right now but I like to be busy.  I feel challenged, and that's a good thing!  Blessed!
  • Starting 1/31, I am also teaching a night-class at my alma-mater, BVU.  GO BEAVERS!  I feel extremely blessed to be offered this opportunity.  It's going to be another challenge for me but it will be good.  I'm excited!  Blessed!
  • Alexis is in pre-team gymnastics 3 days (7-8 hours) a week.  To say the least, this has kept us on  our toes. Starting next week, we have to have her at gymnastics (20 minutes away) by 5:00 p.m.  We get done with school at 4:00 p.m.  Yeah.  Another challenge.  ;)  However, we are extremely impressed with her coach. She's learned SO much in the short time she's been on pre-team.  Mental toughness, physical strength, teamwork, time management to name a few. All life skills.  It's been a great investment!  Blessed!

  • Austin is going to be THREE in a few couple of weeks.  WHERE does the time go?  He's so much fun to have around.  He says the funniest things and keeps us all on our toes.  He goes to my friend Tammy's when have school.  What a BLESSING Tammy is.  We thank God for her often!  Blessed!

  • Justin is done with hunting season (I'm SO sad about that.;).  He got a doe during shot gun and Austin was amused, followed by about 1,000 questions.  He can't wait to hunt with daddy someday!  Blessed (mainly because we only have one deer to eat this year.:) ha!

  • Justin is also leading worship at our church.  He loves playing guitar and singing at home so when the church was in need of a worship leader after our associate pastor left, Justin took on that role.  He's also still serving every Wednesday night at our church's youth group.  He loves it and looks forward to it each week.  Blessed!
Phew.  We're a tad busy.  But BLESSED!

P.S.  I'll be posting pictures of our Texas trip and possibly about some of our other 2013 goals soon.  No, we haven't done any more home-improvement projects.  That's on "the list". 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Barbers, 2012 style!

We ordered our Christmas Cards this week and instead of including a "letter" in them,  I mentioned our blog address.  I wanted to have a digital copy of our 2012 recap so here we go!

2012 has proven to be yet another busy year!

January:  We experienced unusually warm weather for Iowa.  The kids enjoyed the time outside a little bit more and we watched many Newell-Fonda basketball games.

February: Austin turned 2.  Grandma Kacky and Poppa G came from Texas for his party.  We finally got a reasonable amount of snow so we could sled and Alexis participated in her first ever pageant at her friend Mia and Mary's birthday party.

March:  Justin turned 31 and we celebrated by using our "Get-out-of-the-trailer-fund" to purchase a house in Newell.  With the help of friends from church, we moved our "stuff" over to the garage of the house while we stayed with my parents for a few weeks months.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  The stay was much longer than anticipated but was a blessing in so many ways.

April:  This might have been the start of one of the busiest seasons of our lives.  We taught all day long, coached Jr. high track (together),  Alexis played soccer, we started remodeling our house, and we celebrated my Grandpa Nieland's 85th birthday.

May: Just when you think things can't get any busier......  We were still teaching full time, coaching track, watching soccer and softball and baseball started.  Justin coached baseball and Alexis played softball.  More house remodeling., Alexis won a poetry contest and read her poems to a crowd in Pomeroy, and we went on a Memorial Day family fishing trip.  Thankfully, we celebrated the end of the school year (May 18th...earliest ever!), because baseball and softball games started. Games every night!

June:  We celebrated the beautiful wedding of Rachel and BJ (best friend from HS to cousin BJ), LOTS of softball and baseball games, we took time to go to RiseFest (Outdoor Christian concert), spent some very quality time at the "apple tree farm" (mom and dad's farm/orchard), played golf in a mother/daughter/son golf league night, and of course, more house remodeling.

July:  July was one of my favorite months.  LOTS of days with the kids at the pool (my favorite), made some good friends during those long pool days, 4th of July parade watching, a trip to Des Moines to visit old friends while the kids had a good time at The Shanks, friend Kristen's baby shower and you guessed it.....More remodeling.

August:  We finally got our house done enough so we could move in.  I'm sure my parents were ready for us to have our own space but I'm not going to was a bit of an adjustment moving back into town. A couple more trips to the pool, daddy ran his first 5K race with Austin in tow, an annual trip to the great Iowa State Fair and Adventureland with Ang and Kenley, and school started.

September: Put some finishing touches on our Kitchen, Alexis turned 8, and another visit from Grandma Kacky and Papa G, co-worker and friend's (another Rachel) wedding in Dubuque, friend BobbiAnn's baby shower,  our first fall in a house with mature trees (beautiful!) and Justin and I co-taught our first Financial Peace University class to 25 people in the Newell area.

October:  Aron (my brother) married co-worker and friend, Crystal.  Our family celebrated the beautiful wedding in Maquoketa, IA on a georgeous fall day.   We settled into our house a little more, took a trip to the Pumpkin Patch in Fort Dodge the kids trick-or-treated.

November:  Beautiful fall weather continued and Austin enjoyed a few days outside with Papa Bruce helping with the Cows. Alexis started pre-team gymnastics in Storm Lake (2 hours x 3 days/week) and we celebrated all of our blessings with a 60 degree day and lunch with my family at my Grandma Donna and Papa Ike's house and we put up our Christmas decor for the first time since we moved back to Newell.

December: Alexis had her first gymnastics recital, Justin shot his first deer (and hopefully last ;) of the season, and we are going to Texas for 9 days at the end of the month.

In addition to the monthly activities above, in 2012....we co-taught Financial Peace University for 9 weeks,  Justin is also serving at youth group weekly, he part of the music worship team on Sundays, we attend a couple's small-group, and more.

As you can see, we kept busy....

Life is busy.  Too busy.  I like being active but not to the point where we have no "margin".  We didn't have much margin at all in 2012.  Our goal for 2013 is to create more margin.   I thought moving to Newell would be the "ticket" for us to live a less hectic life.  It's not.  It's just as busy.  We may not spend an hour a day in the car but it's a different busy.

I hope that you had an excellent 2012 and an even better 2013!

Merry Christmas!
The Barbers

Saturday, December 8, 2012

To Lucas (the man who stole our credit card number)

Dear Lucas Le,

You happen to be the person that "stole" our credit card number to make a $100 Walmart gift card purchase online.     This came at a good time because not only is it Christmas season, I'm also working very hard on my spirit and judgement of others.  I try to be empathetic.  Maybe you have six kids and are just trying to buy them Christmas gifts?  Maybe you lost your job in the recession and times are tough?  Maybe you need a gift card because you can't buy your family groceries.

I understand that bad things happen to good people.  My husband and I actually had our daughter 3 months too soon and she spent 130 days in the Intensive Care Unit.  During this stressful time, my husband lost his job and numerous "big" expenses came about.  Our car broke down.  My husband tore his achilles tendon with no medical insurance, and more.  None of this was fair and the stress was beyond measure.  However, we chose to overcome and be victors and not victims.  We took a Financial Class at church, got involved in church and studied God's word.  We also had some great friends that gave us a generous Christmas gift and had the power of prayer behind us.  We made it and wouldn't wish that stress on our worst enemies.

I want you to know that I do not condone what you did.  It's fraud to use someone else's "money".  You could spend time in jail for this but I hope you don't.  What I really hope is that you find out the true meaning of Christmas.  I hope that someone in your life tells you that Jesus died for our sins so we could live.

Roman's 3:23 says--For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  I've sinned too.  I'm not perfect in any way, shape or form.  But I am forgiven.

Roman's 10:9 says--

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

It's that simple. I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I will be praying for you.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kitchen Update

Our kitchen is 95% completed.  We still need to pick out a back-splash and hang the valence but otherwise, it's pretty well whipped up!  It's not perfect but I'm very happy with how budget-friendly kitchen turned out.  As soon as we are 100% done, I will post a kitchen budget breakdown post as well.  Here are some updated pictures.

I need to get pictures up of the other completed rooms as well.  My goal is to do that before the weekend is over. 

A view from where the wall dividing the kitchen/dining room used to be.

View from the kitchen island

View from the stairway door into the kitchen/dining room.  It shows how open the space is now.  LOVE IT!

A view from the kitchen entry from the mud-room

The stove and sink wall views
We love how our (mostly) DIY kitchen turned out.  It's so functional and spacious compared to the old kitchen....which is below in case you forgot how yucky it was!
Before from dining room entry.

Before from North (stair) kitchen entry with view of wall that's GONE!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kitchen {Progress}...

I can't believe it's been a month since I last updated.  I was hoping to have this update done by the 1st of September.  Only 2 weeks late (gasp!).  Oh well...story of our kitchen.

We are {almost} done.  We have a little trim work, backsplash and a few other details (some missing hardware, etc) that we need to do and then it's DONE.  YAY!  I am SO SO happy with it so far.  It's been WAY more expensive, time consuming and stressful but it's (almost) been worth it.

Here are some photos of the progress.  When we get the trim work done I'll do a before and after picture but for now it will be before and...progress.  :)

Kitchen Before 1
Kitchen Before 2

Stove Wall
Sink Wall