January 25, 2010

"Not Me" Monday

After reading a few of the hilarious, down-to-earth, REAL stories posted in the "not me" Monday blog carnival, I had to take part. If you know me, you know that I strive to be honest in my posts here and to let people know that they are not alone in their imperfections! However, some of my friends have said that they can't believe I do so much and blah, blah, blah... so in case you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes here, I've got your backstage pass every Monday!

Today I want to share with my secrets for keeping a clean house.

I absolutely NEVER let my kitchen get to this state:

I mean, that is just NOT me at all! I NEVER allow my kids to pull out a new craft or game before they put the first away. NO WAY!

I do NOT keep my son in disposable diapers for five days straight even though we are completely broke and are only supposed to use them for overnight simply because I am too lazy to wash his diapers. And when I wash his diapers I would NEVER let them sit in the washer for three days in a row causing the need for an extra wash and rinse cycle because I DON'T ever have other things going on that cause me to forget that they are in the washer until it's too late and they smell like mildew.

My strict diapering laundry schedule would NEVER cause my family's clothing to pile up in a laundry basket, or the hallway, or their bedroom floor, or the bathroom floor, or under their beds. That kind of thing just does NOT happen in my home!

Don't even think of asking me what's behind that curtain. I have NO idea!

It most certainly ISN'T this. I can tell you that much.

My children know that keeping their room clean is very important. It's because of my own model behavior. They would NEVER let their room get to this state. And I would NEVER contribute to a mess like this by placing laundry baskets full of folded clothes on their bench and floor space because I always put their clothes away immediately.

This is NOT my bathroom. I'm just sayin'.

I do NOT go through the whole day in my chocolate ice cream stained pajamas. I always make sure to shower and dress first thing in the morning.

I make sure that my kids do the same. They NEVER spend an entire Monday in their pajamas, regardless of whether there is a blizzard raging outside.

Speaking of blizzards, we NEVER skip school at home just because the local schools are closed due to a storm. We definitely would NOT spend a snow day sitting around playing video games and watching cartoons. NOT in this house!

Make each day count.

January 22, 2010

Photo Friday

I have a few ideas in the works for this blog. One that involves themes for each day to help me stay focused on what I want this blog to be about. I want it to be about our family and the things that are involved with being a part of this family. Including- loving Jesus, homemaking, being a good wife and mother, homeschooling, crafting, playing, and so on. So I'm moving my Monday Recap to Friday and calling it Photo Friday. I have other ideas for Mondays :)

So it's only been a few days, but here are the last few days in photos.

January 18, 2010
Alex walked around like this, giggling, for a good 10 minutes.

January 19, 2010
Alex's nightly bedtime bottle is a habit we're too soft to break.

January 21, 2010
Jenna wrote an email to Papa and looked up all the hard words by herself.

January 22, 2010
Alex starts to show a sense of humor! He could not stop laughing while running around in this.

Hm, a week full of Alex pictures! He was just too darn cute this week I guess! I've noticed today that there is not a single photo of me in my 365 album yet. I'll have to work on remedying that. I am actually pretty good at getting photos of myself... especially when I consider how few photos exist of my mom from my own childhood. She hated having her picture taken and I totally get that. I am lucky because I live in a world of digital cameras now and I can take pictures at really awesome angles that make my face look cute and not all double-chinny and I also have the advantage of deleting any that I don't like and getting to do as many takes as I need without having to worry about the cost of film. So I get it mom, I really do! But anyway, I need to get a photo of me this week to put in the album because the idea of an entire month going by without a single photo of me is pretty sad.

Some days it is really hard to pick just one photo for the day! Some days it is really hard to just GET a photo for the day! You might notice that most of my photos have that yellowish cast that means I took it at night. That is typically the time of day that I remember to pull out my camera, therefore it is usually when I say "Oh crap! I forgot to get a picture today! Quick kids, pretend to be cute." Ha... like they have to pretend ;) The only reason I have kept going is because I keep my Blurb book updated nearly every day. That way I don't get behind and also I get a visual to show me how far I've progressed and how cool the book is going to be. It's a great incentive for me because I'm a very visual person! Just to give you an idea of what I'm doing here is a screen capture of my Blurb book editor:

The book will be sized at 7x7 and will feature one photo per page with the date at the top and a caption (the same one's I share on this blog) underneath.

As you can see it is a very simple, streamlined set up. I did this so that it would be uncluttered, the photos would really stand out and be the focus of the page, and also to save time and make the project as simple and quick for me to put together as possible! I am absolutely loving putting it together, adding to it each day, and picturing the final product in my hand in 2011!

So there you go. And if you haven't been doing the Project 365 please don't consider all hope lost! You can do a project 52 where you do a photo every week. You could do a 365 of your child's first year, your first year of marriage, or really whatever. You don't have to start on January 1st, you know? I attempted this for the year I am 30 and I started out doing really well, but I wanted it to mainly be about me and I wasn't planning to do an album or anything, I just wanted to do it to share on Facebook. I didn't continue with it for very long and I'm hoping that working on this book and chronicling this year with our family will keep me motivated to keep going.

Tomorrow we're supposed to be travelling to our dear friend's wedding but the weather is being fitful and it's looking less and less likely that we'll be able to make it. Right now it's 34 degrees and raining which makes for very dangerous and icy conditions. There is a winter storm warning for the whole weekend. Not only am I very disappointed to miss Anna and Adam's wedding, but I have two little girls who will be very sad to find out they won't be sleeping at Grandma and Grandpa's house. A lot harder to get the kids to understand why the weather keeps them from doing fun things than for our friends to understand why we won't be at the wedding. I have a feeling tomorrow will be wrought with tears. I'll have to try very hard to find fun things to keep our minds occupied.

Make each day count.

January 20, 2010

It's a Slow Process

One of my main goals for this year has been to do more with my pictures and make our home more suited to our personalities. It's a slow process but one that I am determined to get through this year! There are big things that I need to tackle like the clutter and organization that I am so bad at, but that something that will take an even longer time so for now I'm doing the photo stuff. I've found that when I do something new and fun to make the house look better that I get more in the mood to do the cleaning and organizing afterward.

So anyway, I've been printing, and framing, and creating, and painting, and it has been so much fun! One thing I had seen recently on another blog and just fell in love with was silhouettes. So I took pictures of the kids, played with them in Photoshop, printed and framed them and got them up on the wall. Here is the end result:

Um, my walls are not really that yellow. They are white, but something happened to Photoshop on my computer so I can't properly edit right now. Anyway, you get the idea no matter the quality of the picture. This is right above our couch.

The next thing I had in mind was a photo collage on the entry wall. We have a half wall dividing our stairs from our living room and it's so boring and I never have known what to do with it. Currently it is shelving our dvd collection so that Alex can't get to them, but I'm going to have to think of something else to do with them now. Here is what I did over there:

I was able to get a great deal at snapfish.com- 100 prints for only 50 cents! I was so excited!

So, it's a start. I was stressing about all the photos I wanted to display and not having money for frames and then not really having room for all the pictures and so on, then I realized I don't need frames. The most important thing for me was the photos themselves and I knew that the main reason I hadn't printed any pictures in so long was because they get shoved in albums or boxes and rarely looked at again, so what's the point? Now I have 100 of my very favorites that I can look at every day and I know that this will bring me joy every time I walk by it!

Well, the baby is in bed and I finally have a free moment to shower so I'm going to snag it!

Make each day count.

January 18, 2010

Monday Recap

Blogging takes a lot of time. I don't know how some people manage to blog about something interesting with pictures every day! It's a lot of work. One thing I hope to be able to do at the very least is my Monday Recaps. It's a chance to share my Project 365 photos for the week and a way to keep my family up to date on what's going on with us.

Last week was a tough one for me. I spent it stressed out, emotional, feeling out of sorts and just needing a break from everything it seemed. Not that I got one... but I'm feeling a bit better today. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow feels like the start of the week since today is a holiday. So my intention is to start the week with a renewed hope and positivity plus more energy and optimism.

We got to spend some time with Eric's sister, Angie, her husband, Dan, and daughter, Zion, this weekend. I enjoyed catching up, eating good food, and watching the kids play with their only cousin. At the end of the weekend, though, I was ready to go home and be alone. I was all "peopled out". As much as I enjoy time with family and friends, I am very much a homebody who enjoys the natural rhythm of our family dynamic.

Well, anyway, without further ado- here are my photos from last week.

January 12, 2010
Blanket fort with Marah and Alex.

January 13, 2010
Two bucks and change from Jenna for Daddy's birthday.

January 14, 2010
Bathtime goofiness from Alex.

January 15, 2010
Sledding with Zion.

January 16, 2010
The weather was finally warm enough to build a snowman!

January 17, 2010
Watching the Vikings vs. Cowboys at Fred and Tera's. Skol Vikes!

January 18, 2010
The little chefs make magic potions.

I hope that your week is filled with fun and memory making!

Make each day count.

January 11, 2010

Monday Recap

I'm hoping to do a weekly recap every Monday. Just a quick glimpse into our daily lives through my Project 365 (in which I take a photo every day for a year) and a little narration of what's going on. I'm trying to find my niche in this world known as the "blogosphere". It's a bit daunting because I'm such a dabbler. I enjoy so many things and have so much going on at any given time that I don't know how to narrow things down into something that can be categorized. Maybe that's just going to have to be the way it is here... random, like my life. :)

January 1, 2010

With kitchen items to clang the girls stayed up to ring in the new year for the first time ever!
January 2, 2010
Marah had so much fun playing Monopoly Jr. with Mom. She even won!

January 3, 2010
Alex loves to sit with Daddy and the computer.

January 4, 2010
Conquering snow mountain!

January 5, 2010
Marah dances with Alex to the Chipmunk movie ending credits.

January 6, 2010
Just another normal evening in front of the Xbox 360.

January 7, 2010
Alex thinks he so funny when he wears other people's hats. Of course, he's right!

January 8, 2010
Marah is starting to really get into drawing.

January 9, 2010
Alex loves playing with his hammer and nails set.

January 10, 2010
Watching the 20th Anniversary Simpsons Episode together.

January 11, 2010
School resumes after taking a month off for Christmas!

This year I'm hoping that by working on my Project 365 album every day that it will keep me motivated to stick with it. I'm loving putting it together and cannot wait until the end of the year when I can order it and have a daily record of our lives this year! It's just a simple template from blurb.com with the date at the top, a photo in middle and a caption at the bottom. No scrapping, nothing complicated. Just plain and simple and manageable.

As you can see from the last photo, we are just now starting up school again after a month long break for the Christmas season. Of course, things were learned in that time but our main focus was in learning about the birth of Christ, why God sent Him to be our Savior, and on creating, memory making and just all around fun having! Now it's time to start doing a little more worldly learning while still making the Lord Jesus our main focus every day. My goal for this year is to teach my children how to live for God and trust in Him. I have so much to teach them and it's daunting but exciting!

Anyway, thanks for catching up with my family. I hope this day finds you happy and healthy and full of joy!

Make each day count.

January 5, 2010

The Lord's Table

Today is Temptation Tuesday where I choose to share my struggles with food for those who care to listen. My addiction to food is something I am working to overcome. I've been working on this for most of my life but only just recently I have discovered something that has opened my eyes to what my journey has been lacking.

This is me at my current weight of 200 lbs.

The Lord's Table is a free online course that guides you through the principles of filling your life with the everlasting love of Jesus instead of turning to the lure of temporary happiness that addictive behavior gives us. There are other courses at the Setting Captive's Free site as well. Courses to address addictive behaviors such as s.e.x.ual purity, substance abuse, and self-injury. If you need help with any of these issues I would highly recommend dedicating yourself to the free 60 day course. This site also sets you up with a mentor who will email you with advice and can help you stay accountable to overcoming your addiction.

Never before have I been so excited to see what this journey will bring for my life. I am learning not to focus so much on the weight loss aspect but, rather, on learning how to fill my soul with real food and growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Readers, I hope that if you find yourself needing this intervention in your life that you will commit yourself to the 60 day course and if you need prayer or additional support please feel free to email me at ashtinafayelou at gmail dot com. I would be happy to go through this journey together.

Reference- http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/

Make each day count.

January 4, 2010

Snowman Craft

The idea for today's craft comes from the Frugal Family Fun Blog.
Here is the link- Snowman Vase from Recyclables

Oh, the cuteness of this craft! The simplicity! The recycling! It's everything I love about a kids craft. And aren't we lucky to have plenty of empty Gerber's Puffs containers in my crafting box?! Seriously, I think baby manufacturers had crafting in mind when they designed their containers. Baby food jars, Puffs containers, formula canisters... they're all perfect for crafting. Love it!

We'll be making these tomorrow after Jenna's speech therapy.

Make each day count!

January 3, 2010

It's What I Long For

Hymn to a Good Wife
Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Message)
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.

Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.

She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
with money she's put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist
anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.

She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when
he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.

Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!"

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised is
the woman who lives in the Fear-of-
Give her everything she deserves!

Festoon her life with praises!


There are so many things I can find in this passage that I need to work on. Those that stand out the most to me are "She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. " and "She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast or her family and organizing her day." Most days I feel that I don't do enough. I don't spend enough time with my children, teaching them, playing with them, just being involved. I know I can put on a good show sometimes, but please, don't be fooled into thinking that I am as productive as I seem to portray. This is an area of my life that I greatly struggle with. I definitely can be best friends with laziness.

How I feel on a regular basis

And so, I do plan to print these passages and hang them in my living room where I will see them every day, throughout the day, and be reminded of my weakness so that I would make the changes in my life that are needed in order to be the wife and mother and friend that God wants me to be. That He has called me to be.

This job is rewarding but seldom rewarded. I so often find myself feeling wistful wanderlust and wishing for more in life but it is when I take a step back that I am reminded of how blessed and full my life really is.

How I strive to feel on a daily basis.

I'm under no illusions that life is perfect nor that it should be or ever will be. I fully understand that my shortcomings are due to the sinful nature of man. To err is human. However, by God's grace, I can learn to become a better woman by practice and lots of prayer.

Make each day count.

January 2, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes


Reflection Questions for 2009

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

Ooh, it's hard to remember the whole year! I would say, as far as fun and memorable, our trip to Aberdeen, SD for my niece's birthday. Such a great time!

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Figuring out how to homeschool while raising a baby!

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Running! I would have never in a million years thought that I could run for 30 minutes, but I did it! Of course, now my left foot is suffering from it but I'm still happy that I did it.


4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Eric's Crohn's flare up that caused him to lose his job and put a lot of stress on both of us. However, I believe it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise because now he is finally going to school and, while money is very tight, we are happy and that is always a good thing!

5. Pick three words to describe 2009.

growth, trials, love

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2009 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
oh, he wouldn't.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2009 (again, without asking).
This is lame. haha

8. What were the best books you read this year?

For Women Only (really helped me understand my husband), My Sister's Keeper, The Kommandant's Girl

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Besides my family, I would say Elizabeth has been so supportive and such a great friend to me. Plus Anna sure did make this year a lot more enjoyable! It was so fun to have a friend so close by. I will miss her a lot now that she's back in TRF.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I think it would have to be my energy and motivation to do more with my family.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I'm learning to relax more (still working on it) and enjoy life.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

In my trust of God's will for me and my family. I've been put to the test and I think I did pretty well with leaning not on my own understanding but trusting that He would carry us through even when it seemed impossible. We have been very blessed.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

I did the Couch to 5K program and still am shocked that I did it!

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

My marriage is stronger and I feel like we understand each other so much better today than we did a year ago. We are truly in love.

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?

Well, I've been working on making our house a home. It's a long road because everything seems to cost so much money! But slowly and surely I've been making changes. Finally hanging photos and getting a new bedding set and some other things for our bedroom to make it more cozy.

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?

Oh... all of it! Clutter. The clutter overwhelms me.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Probably napping. I need to work on it. I'm trying.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2009 for you.

All you need is love. Love is all you need. -The Beatles

If you care to take a moment to reflect on 2009 and want to blog about it I would love to read it! Link me up!

Make each day count.