Monday, December 26, 2011

Blessing: Christ's Birth

We had such a nice Christmas.  For the first time in our 8 years of marriage, we got to stay home for Christmas, which was really nice.  Santa came to "our" house this year and the kids loved it.  I am so thankful that our family knows the real reason for the season, Christ's birth.  Yes, Santa came, we opened gifts, ate goodies and did all of the traditional things we do at Christmas but we enjoyed 2 beautiful church services and gave many thanks to God for sending his son, a savior.   Here are some of the pictures from our Christmas festivities. Fun times!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blessing: Ambition

I've been so busy this fall/winter that my "house" has gone to shambles.  It doesn't help that we're renting a house that is less-than-ideal.  The motivation to keep a house that isn't nice clean and organized is far less appealing than it was when we had our house in Clive.  Also:  Since I have about only 1/2 of the space that our house Clive had, things get cluttered and unorganized much quicker.

Things had gotten REALLY bad in my house.  I just "decluttered" in September, in anticipation of packing, but it's gotten really bad since then.  It's so bad, in fact, I can't believe I even am sharing these to the whole world.  Oh well--it is what it is, right?

Well--I was finally home once (I've been gone many of the past few weekends) and got the ambition to declutter our toy room/office.  One of my favorite blogs ( often shares before/after organizing pictures so I'm copying.  One of my FAVORITE things to do is look at before/after organizing pictures.  So refreshing.  Here the beauties are.....

Shelves before...
Shelves after!

Office/desk area before... (yikes!!)

Office/desk area after.  Ah...much better!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankful: Day 30

Today I'm thankful for our health.  We are so, so blessed in the health department.  After our 130 day stint in the hospital with Alexis, we quickly learned that there are SO many things to be "sick" with.  Our little Alexis came out with a handful of health problems, but most have been resolved, thank GOD!  Justin and I had our physicals for life insurance today, finally!  We've been putting off life insurance for far too long and now that we're both past the 30 mark, it's more than time.  I'm thankful our health is good so we could get affordable premiums. 

It's been a fun month of Thanksgiving.  I have SO many things to be thankful for, hence the title of my blog.  My daily gratitudes are over, but I will continue to blog about life's everyday blessings. 

~Be blessed,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankful: Day 29

Today I'm thankful for 7 year old humor.  Alexis humor.  That girl cracks me up.  She's dramatic in every way (say a prayer for me for the next 10+ years).  She says several funny things each week and I seriously need to be better about writing them down blogging them. 

Here's what she said today....

A little background.  Justin and I finally purchased some substantial life insurance policies (yay!).  We had a traveling nurse at our house early this morning to do medical exams for our new policies and Alexis watched the whole thing.  She had many questions later but her little funny was...."Oh mom, I know why you're wearing that bracelet (an Energy Armor I put on a couple of days ago).  It your new life bracelet.  If you're dying, you just push that button (the magnet) and they send you your life insurance money."

One more Alexis funny. We're driving to go shopping in the morning of Black Friday (about 9:00 a.m.).  She goes..."Mom, whoever named this black friday was confused because it is NOT DARK out." 

I know, someday, her "drama" won't be as funny to me as it is now, so I'm enjoying her silly little sense of humor while it lasts.  I'm thankful for that girl.  She's such a blessing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful: Day 28

Today I'm thankful for slippers.  I love slippers in the winter time.  They keep my tootsies warm and cozy.  It's been a few long days so I was excited to get home from work today to slip on my comfy clothes and cozy slippers.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful: Day 27

Today I'm thankful for sunsets.  I'm blogging while driving home from Tulsa and there is the most beautiful sunset.  I love sunsets and am very thankful God gave them to us to look at.

My camera is in the back of the car but I found a sunset similar to the one I'm looking at.  So beautiful!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful: Day 26

Today I'm thankful for love.  Justin's sister (the other Amy Barber) got married today.  The wedding was beautiful and they had the most precious flower girl. ;)  There was a lot of love going on there.  Justin's fraternal grandparents from Florida came and they've been married 63 years!! Justin and I have great examples in our lives.  We're very fortunate to say none of our parents or grandparents have been divorced.  We've been married 8 years and although love isn't always easy, it's worth it! 

We're doing a couple's small group on Sunday nights and right now we're doing a study called "Staying in Love" by Pastor Andy Stanley.  It's a great study and when it's all over, I'll blog the bullet-points of what we learned. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful: Day 25

Today I'm thankful for shopping!!!  I love to shop.  I'm very "frugal" so I don't often splurge but I do search high and low for great bargains.  Today is Black Friday and although there weren't a ton of great bargains that caught my eye this year, I did go out and snag some Christmas gifts.  I also got a new phone for me, which is allowing me internet in the car to post this!   Our hotel in Tulsa was also across the way from a very nice shopping center which had a SWEET jewelry store called $1 Jewelry Galore.  It was no joke, all of their jewelry was $1 and some was even 2/$1.  That is my kind of jewelry, folks!  I got 27 new pieces of jewelry.  Not great quality jewelry but "fun" jewelry to wear...even if just a few times.  It was a great day!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful: Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving.  Today is the day we celebrate thankfulness for everything God has given us.  I am thankful for so, so many things today but I'll narrow it down.  I'm most thankful for family.  We get to spend many days each year with my family since we live in the same town as my parents and siblings.

Today, we got to spend the day with Justin's family.  I can't even remember the last time his parents, siblings, spouses and grandkids were together.  It's been at least 2+ years and that was before Craig and Austin were part of the family so it'll be a special day, especially for Justin's parents as they have all of their kids together (which is rare).

We went to Craig and Amy's church to celebrate, eat, and watch football.  They had a nice big kitchen and dining area so we had plenty of room.  Grandma Kacky (J's mom) went to a TON of work bringing every single grocery and kitchen supply to make an entire Thanksgiving feast, which made me even more thankful for the meal.  It was a fun day...and I ate too much!

I'm posting this before I have pictures uploaded of the day but I'll post them soon!  Check back...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful: Day 23

Today I'm thankful for safe travel.  We traveled down to Tulsa, OK today for a 4 day "mini-vacation" for Amy Lory's wedding.  Amy and Craig (the groom) are the only ones who live in Tulsa so every other family member coming to the family had to travel and everyone made it there safe!

I'm also thankful for a car to get us there, $ to put gas in the car, kids who were well behaved in the car on the way down, time with family over the next few days, and much more.  We're excited to spend a few days away, relaxing, and spending time with all of Justin's family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful: Day 22

Today I'm thankful for our emergency fund.  Our breaks went out in our Rendezvous and I'm very thankful we had some $$ in a fund to pay for it, so we didn't have to put it on a credit card.

Our emergency fund was established shortly after we took the class Financial Peace University (by Dave Ramsey) in 2007.  I am so thankful for what we learned in that class.  If you haven't taken it, you should!  It's a very simple way to take control of your finances.  Dave suggests 7 baby steps to financial freedom.  Here are the baby steps: 

Baby Step 1
Baby Step 1

$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen. Learn more
Baby Step 2
Baby Step 2

Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first. Learn more
Baby Step 3
Baby Step 3

3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund. Learn more
Baby Step 4
Baby Step 4

Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth. Learn more
Baby Step 5
Baby Step 5

College funding for children

By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now. Learn more
Baby Step 6
Baby Step 6

Pay off home early

Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments. Learn more
Baby Step 7
Baby Step 7

Build wealth and give!

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live! Learn more


We took this class 5 years ago but still use the principals we learned in Financial Peace.  I'm proud to say we're on Baby Step 4. We're doing it a little different, though.  Instead of putting it in an IRA, we're putting it in a hi-fi savings account we call the "get out of the trailer fund".  If/when we decide to buy another house, we will need a large down payment because we still have our mortgage for our Clive house.  So, we're very focused in stocking money into the "get out of the trailer fund" every month.   I'm thankful for all we've learned about handling finances, for our incomes, and for our ability to be disciplined with what God's given us!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful: Day 21

Today I'm thankful for a warm bed.  I think the lack of sleep I got when the kids were sick last week has finally caught up to me.  I'm wiped and headed to snuggle Alexis in my warm bed!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankful: Day 20

Today I'm thankful for sunshine.  Justin is at school playing basketball, both kids are napping and I'm enjoying some peace and quite while sipping on coffee and enjoying the afternoon sunshine that's beating through the window.  Aaaahhhh....Life is Good!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful: Day 19

Today I'm thankful for education.  Justin and I both had great upbringings where education was highly valued.  We both graduated from high school (me from Newell-Fonda and he from Van Alstyne in TX), followed by graduation from BVU (in 2003 together), finally earning our master's degrees (mine in 2009 from Morningside and J's this past May from Kaplan).

After 16+ years of school, Justin and I are both decided that we love school so much and became teachers.  We are passionate about education.  I'm thankful for all of the teachers that have influenced us and for all of the teachers that will and have influenced our children.  Education is so important and I'm very thankful for it!

Speaking of education and being thankful, here are 2 drawings Alexis brought home in her "Friday Folder" yesterday.  This is a snapshot of what she is thankful for.  I got a good chuckle out of these.  Check out the first one.  She erased "an awesome brother" and replaced it with a "cool house" (she's talking about our house in Clive).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful: Day 18

Today I'm thankful for unexpected blessings.  As I checked the mail, I received a $500 check from Meredith Corporation.  I won a card making contest through Scrapbooks Etc. (the magazine) a few months ago and my check came in the mail today. I hadn't thought about this $ in quite a while so it came as a shock to me. It comes at a good time...right before we travel to Tulsa over Thanksgiving for Justin's sister's wedding.  I will probably use this to do some Christmas shopping while I am down there. 

I'm also thankful for my ability to "craft" things (scrapbooks, cards) and for companies, like Meredith, that bless people with contests like this.  Not only was I blessed with $500, I also got to pick a charity to get a $500 donation to.  Guess which charity I chose?  March of Dimes, of course!  :)

Here is the "surprise" check that came in the mail today!  Woohoo!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful: Day 17

Today I am thankful for my nephew, Kenley.  He's my one and only.  My sister Angie's 8 year old is a blessing to us.  He gets to hang out in his Aunt Amy's classroom everyday after school and then at our house until his mom gets to come home from work at about 5:30.  He's a very polite little boy and Alexis and Austin adore him.

Today, when we got home from school he and Alexis sat down in our living room to look a her 2008 scrapbook that I recently finished.  Kenley appeared in the scrapbook quite frequently so they laughed and giggled together while looking back at pictures and reminiscing about their days at grandma's (when we would come back from Des Moines for weekend visits).  Alexis and Kenley were more like siblings in those days since they were both only children.  Here are some pictures of the kids this week.

Lots of giggles while looking at scrapbook from when they were 4 and 5.
Lazy bones!  Alexis was sick today so she's still in her jammies...not feeling well.
 Austin wants to see, too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful: Day 16

Today I'm thankful for Coffee!!!  I splurged last week and did something very out of my character.  I made a somewhat spontaneous purchase.  I'm usually a thinker when it comes to buying something costing more than $50.  I usually research, sleep on it, think about and talk to Justin about it.  This time, the only thing I did was 5 minutes of research before I pulled the trigger.   Yup, I purchased a brand-spankin-new.....Keurig Coffeemaker!   When I got home from work, she was waiting on my doorstep.  I'm so excited! 

Here she is!

She is out and ready to brew the first cup of coffee goodness!

Disclaimer:  Although I made a spontaneous purchase, I didn't do so without getting a good deal.  I saw on one of my fav. blogs ( that this baby was on sale for $84 (down from $160) so I went ahead and pulled the trigger since I have wanted one for awhile. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful: Day 15

I'm piggybacking on last night's post.  Tonight I'm thankful for another internet resource; Twitter.  I use Twitter as a professional development tool for school, mainly.  One of the bummer things about teaching Special Ed. in a rural (small) district is that there aren't multiple elementary special educators to bounce ideas off of.  That's one of the biggest things I miss about teaching in a large district.  So, to make up for it, I connect with other special educators across the country via Twitter.

I've found that some of the most passionate teachers are using Twitter to share interesting articles, blogs, classroom ideas that work, etc. and I'm thankful for social media to help me "stay connected"

I'm telling every teacher I know to get on Twitter.  It can be a time sucker (like most things on the internet) but it has some of the best resources out there.  I've even convinced my good bud, @RachelUrbain to Tweet this year.  Woohoo!  :)

P. S.  To all of your future Tweeters out there, use the actual Twitter website ONLY to sign up.  From there, use a #hashtag managing website like TweetDeck or HootSuite!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful: Day 14

Today I'm thankful for the internet.  Seriously...WHAT did we do before the ol' www?  I'm especially thankful for blogs.  It's probably an understatement to say I love blogs.  I'm addicted to them.  I read all types of blogs.  Personal friend's blogs, money-saving blogs, school blogs, home-decor and remodeling blogs, crafty blogs, recipe blogs, and many other random blogs.  Here is a Symbaloo with a few of my favorite blogs bookmarked.

There isn't enough room on the Symbaloo for all of the blogs I like...I need to start another one! 

 Here is a Symbaloo with some of my favorite teacher blogs.  I can't believe how much time some teachers put into their blogs.  It's amazing and I'm very thankful because I steal borrow their ideas for my own classroom!

 Well--off to read some more blogs.  Goodnight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful: Day 13

Well, I've covered all of the biggies.  My faith in God, my husband, my kids, family,  & friends.  I could spend the entire month of November posting about the abundance of blessings that they (all of above) provide on a daily basis but those are the major things I blog about regularly.  I'm going to spend the rest of the month blogging about "life's simple pleasures".

Today, I'm thankful for music.  I do NOT  have one musical bone in my body.  Not one. As my dad says, "I can't carry a tune in a bucket."  But--I'm glad someone has musical talent because music is a blessing to me daily.  I start my day, everyday, listening to music.  Usually with a cup of coffee and my computer or bible, I listen to music.

I like all types of music but I spend most of my time listening to Christian music.  It keeps me calm and helps me stay sane.  Plus, it allows me memorize Christian principals that I can apply to my daily life.  Like music, I'm also NOT blessed with the gift of memorization.  "They" (pastors, christian leaders) says it's important to memorize scripture but I'm not good at it. So, Christian music helps me with this.

My 2nd favorite type of music is Country.  I love me a good Brad Paisley or Kenny Chesney song.  :)

When I'm running (which isn't as often as it should be) I like to listen to some hard rock.  There's just something about songs with a good beat to inspire me to keep truckin' despite my I-think-I-might-die-before-mile-one attitude.

Music is a such a blessing.  Thank you for the pleasure of unlimited listening!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful: Day 12

Today I'm thankful for friends.  Whether it be friends I don't get to see on a regular basis (thank goodness for Facebook) or friends who live in the same town as me, I'm blessed with lots of different friends.  There are high school friends, college friends, neighbors, former work friends, former church friends, current work friends, current church friends, and everything in between.  I look around at all of the friends I've had the opportunity to come into contact with over the years and just like everything else, I'm blessed!

One of these days, I'm going to take the time to scan in all of my non-digital pictures. I didn't have a digital camera until Alexis was born (in 2004) so every photo I have before then is printed and in an album.   Because of the time constraints kids involve, I don't get nearly as much time with friends as I'd like or as I used to.

Here are a few photos of friends taken in the last couple of years.  Sorry, they're the only ones I have on my computer. :(     I've also noticed that since having kids, that's 90% of what I take pictures of.  Looks like I need to do a better job of snapping photo op's of people other than my kids!   I also haven't done a good job of taking photos since I've moved to Newell.  To-do item #987.

Here are a few pictures of friends I've met through the years.  :)