At the end of a crazy night…

Well, this day turned out to be more eventful than I intended or really even wished for.  Abigail locked me out of her room and I was forced to take the door knob off.  Before I put the door knob back on Abigail locked all of us in her room which forced me to jump out of her window.  And then I had to call Raymond home from work so that we could take Abigail to the emergency room because her elbow dislocated for the second time in 3 weeks (we didn’t realize that’s what happened the first time, but now we know that it was a dislocation that corrected itself). Its called a nursemaid’s elbow and is pretty common in children until the age of 4.  The doctor said that it seems like Abigail will be a “frequent flier” of the nursemaid’s elbow since it happens so easily and corrects itself just as easily.

But now we’re all home and both of the girls are very asleep (phew!).  Tonight I am thankful for windows that open with relative ease, for unlocked doors, for a manager who will let Raymond go home to take care of his family, and for healthcare facilities that are open 24/7.

Happy 4 months Charlotte!

A favorite past-time…

And here is a picture of our new bow center and a better picture of the revamped dresser:

A Pinterest creation (2 girls = more bows than I can count)

A better picture of the dresser

We also had the pleasure of spending the evening with the Elieffs on Monday night.  We grilled burgers and hot dogs, laughed, talked about buying houses, and protected Abigail from the cuddly dog, Humphrey.

She is Raymond’s child through and through

The husbands are walking the dog and the wives are walking the husbands

Investigating a worm with Emily

Abigail stole Jacob’s scooter

Good friends

 

 

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Redeem and Repurpose

Before

During graduation weekend, we found this ugly dresser at a thrift/antique-type store on Frankfort Ave.  Raymond talked to woman down from $45 to $40…he’s pretty proud of himself for that :) So I decided to try out some more Pinterest-craftiness and repaint the dresser for the girls’ room.  It took almost the whole day mainly because Abigail had the WORST poopy diaper ever, kept trying to finger paint on the dresser, and actually fell in some paint that somebody (coughRaymondcough) spilled on the grass…

Here are some pictures from the day:

Sanding

Priming

Painting…Raymond thinks I’m the next Michaelangelo
Not long after this is when Abigail fell in the paint :)

The stencil on each drawer

After

The color is a little wonky in this picture because the lighting is wonky in the girls’ room :) but I think it turned out really well! I’m leaving the drawers cracked a little for awhile to let the paint dry really well so that the drawers won’t stick to the frame.  Raymond intends on selling this dresser to anybody who will pay $400 for it…

And this frame will eventually become a bow station for all of Abigail and Charlotte’s bows!

And a work in progress…

A Green Thumb

I’ve been interested in learning how to grow things (especially edible things) for a while.  Until we moved to our new apartment there wasn’t really a nice sunny place to plant anything even in containers.  But the patio area in our apartment now gets about 10 hours of sunshine on a nice summer day so while Mrs. Pat was in town for Raymond’s graduation, she helped us get a little “newbie” garden up and running.  I call it a “newbie” garden so that I won’t be disappointed if nothing grows :) We decided on 2 tomato plants, squash, beans, and 2 blueberry bushes.  We love fruit in our house and blueberries are way too expensive for our budget so I thought it might be fun to give blueberries a try.  We were planting a little late in the season so we bought actual tomato plants instead of starting from seeds, but we went ahead with seeds for the squash and beans.

The 2 blueberry bushes

I learned that blueberries require cross-pollination so we were encouraged to buy 2 bushes of differing varieties.  I guess that’s a good way for that plant nursery to make money… :)

Tomatoes, beans, squash

These pictures are from 2 weeks ago and already so much as changed!  The squash and bean plants are getting pretty large now and there’s already a small tomato growing on one of the tomato plants.  I’m also able to collect a good handful of blueberries every day…we definitely are not saving them for anything special – Abigail and I eat them as soon as they’re rinsed off :)

Our first blueberry! It was yummy

A Borrowed Sewing Machine and an Urge to Craft

I recently came into temporary possession of a sewing machine since my friend, Rebekah, and her husband were headed out of town for a couple of weeks to visit with family for Christmas.  Again, its this Pinterest thing that has sparked my interest ;) in creating for myself things that would be useful for our home.  I thought I would display the couple of items I’ve been working on over the holidays…

First, I tried my hand at making a little beanie for Charlotte to wear during the first few months of her life which will be in the middle of freezing weather :) This project was probably not the best one to start with considering that I’ve never ever ever sewn a thing in my life!  It turns out that the material used to make the beanie (jersey knit) is incredible difficult to work with, and for that reason, you are viewing a picture of my second attempt, the first one being quite ugly :) My skills could definitely use some improvement, but this one will do…
I am also planning to make some more flowers (and maybe bows?) to go with the hat.  You can see from the picture of the purple flower (which is actually the back) that I’ve included a button, which corresponds with a button hole on the beanie, so that the flowers are interchangeable!

My second project was to make a couple of zipper pouches that could accommodate all the necessary items for Charlotte and Abigail during nursery time at church or any other outings really.  I decided that I didn’t want to be carrying a purse and 2 diaper bags to church 3 or more times a week (and we aren’t super fans of the diaper bag we have right now anyways…don’t worry, it was free), so my solution is to keep these “diaper pouches” in my purse (which is now a big one that can definitely accommodate these pouches and my own personal items…thanks to a dear friend) and just drop the pouches off with each child during nursery time.  Each pouch is about the size of a piece of paper and is about 3 inches deep on the bottom.  The one on the left is Charlotte’s and the right is Abigail’s.

So after becoming slightly acquainted with a sewing machine and successfully (I think) accomplishing a couple of projects, I’ve added a sewing machine to my “I wish I had…” list :) Though I am definitely not even a little bit jealous of all the women before me who had to hand stitch all their family’s clothing, I definitely enjoyed the feeling of making something useful for our family (and its cheaper than buying them!)

A Sudden Burst of Creativity

Recently, the creative juices have been flowing in the Johnson home.  Perhaps its the 3rd trimester taking over, but I think it also might have something to do with Pinterest, to which I am only mildly addicted to :)

Ever since we moved (back towards the end of May), I’ve been searching for some artwork to put above our fireplace mantle.  I’ve found some really beautiful pieces, but all of them are for a price that I’ve been unwilling to pay ($60+).  So, my frugal nature has left us with a very blank area of wall that is very loudly begging for something to take up the space.

I had pretty much given up searching for anything just because we didn’t really have the money to do anything that I wanted to with the area…until the advent of, and subsequent obsession with, Pinterest!  I’ve really been inspired by all of the “do-it-yourself” projects and so I decided to put that energy into creating some kind of artwork for the mantle.

First of all, I am not exactly a “crafty” or “artsy” person so this is not the route I usually take in finding ways to be frugal…I would much rather spend my time finding great deals at the store or doing things like making laundry detergent!  But I did some research for awhile, found something I though would be feasible for such a person as me with very low level art skills, and I bought all the necessary supplies (which cost about $25).  From there, I spent a few weeks building up the courage to begin this monstrous (for me) project and I waited :) One day a few weeks ago, a couple of really good friends came for a visit and they helped me get a jump start by painting the base color on the canvases.

I figured that there was no way to get my money back now so I might as well keep going!   I kept taking it pretty slow so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed, but the project is officially done and we now have that something that I wanted above the fireplace :)  Its definitely not worthy of the artwork I originally was looking to buy, but it’ll do…

Here are a few shots of the process:

Why I am a Stay-at-Home Mom — Part 3

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’  Proverbs 31:27-29

 

Or maybe this is what you think of housewives...

It is very easy to fall into the sin-habit of ‘eat[ing] the bread of idleness’ especially as a housewife with no or young children where we don’t have a boss setting goals for us or specific demands from 9-5 everyday.  Laziness has become an especially prominent stronghold with the advent of such luxuries as television, computers, and social media (especially Facebook).

So how do I spend my time inside and outside of the home such that laziness does not become a pattern for me?

I will not lie to you that laziness is a weakness/temptation that I am not always successful at overcoming.  There are many times when I end up doing everything except for what actually needs to be done.  For example – I am not a fan of cleaning bathrooms, so this household duty is last on my list of things to do and if I can find anything else to do then cleaning the bathrooms always gets moved farther down the list!  So being able to pinpoint some of my weaknesses like this one allows me to take specific and practical steps toward guarding against those manifestations of laziness.  Just about a week ago, I purchased a dry erase board with a calendar on it and all I have to do is fill in the correct dates for each month.  This calendar allows me to plan when I want to clean specific parts of our home, run errands, exercise, etc.  Planning ahead like this prevents me from getting to Friday or Saturday and realizing that I have to spend the whole day doing everything that I could have done a little bit everyday during the week.

To be honest, cleaning our 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1200 sq ft apartment does not require much of my time (if I’m diligent to actually do it and not just lolly gag around) and Abigail sleeps for about 16 hours of the day, so what could I possibly do in the meantime other than watch television and stalk people/invent funny status updates on Facebook?

During this time in our life I have taken on the responsibility of being creative with using/saving our money.  We don’t have much left after we pay our bills so it is essential that we use our money wisely so that we are not spending more than we make.  Couponing is certainly a worthwhile time investment, especially if there are coupons out there for items you already use.  There are many times, through using coupons for items on sale, that I end up saving just as much money as I spend.  Couponing does not require much of my time during the week, but we do get a Sunday paper almost every week and I frequent certain websites that do all of the sales research for me.  There are many websites that list sale items at certain stores and draw attention to high-value coupons – I use Money Saving Mom and My Frugal Adventures.  Aside from couponing, I also try to find creative ways to make cheap, healthy food (which sometimes requires more work but is definitely worth it).  Right now, for example, I have a whole chicken waiting in my freezer.  I bought the chicken for $0.79 per lb, which is MUCH cheaper than buying frozen chicken breasts and I can also use the carcass to make chicken broth.  This will be my first time using a whole chicken (I’m not a fan of cleaning out the middle part), but I have a dear friend who will be teaching me soon!

I also have decided to make our own laundry detergent.  The recipe (recipe #2 on the linked page) calls for 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup of washing soda, and ½ cup of Borax.  It makes a 5-gallon bucket of double-concentrated detergent and costs between 2-3 dollars.  The bar of soap is the most expensive component (about $1.50) but you can use whatever soap you want; Fels-Naptha soap is specially formulated for cleaning clothes, so that’s why I use it.  I find that this detergent works well and I use Shout to spray especially tough-looking stains.l  There are other ingredients you can use to make your own laundry detergent, but I think this might be the cheapest.  Some people have problems with using Borax but nobody in our family eats the laundry detergent so I don’t have any issues using it.

Since we have a baby who is eating baby food (another super-overpriced grocery item) I make it all from vegetables and fruit I buy at the grocery store rather than buying jars of food.  This chart can give you a rough idea of how much money we save by making homemade baby food.  It is a little more difficult to make cereal (fruits and vegetables only require cooking and pureeing) but so far I have been able to get all our cereal for free.

Aside from making sure we are spending our money wisely and keeping our home relaxing and clean, Raymond and I both find it a top priority to invest a lot of our time in our church family.  Since I have ‘free’ days, I am able to spend one day a week at the church making copies, organizing closets, and making phone calls so that the church can use what would have been somebody’s salary to pay for a mission trip, provide childcare for Bible study, help a couple with their adoption, etc.  I am also able to attend a woman’s Bible study on Thursday morning which allows me to form relationships with women in the church I wouldn’t normally interact with.  These women are an encouragement to me as I am able to learn from their wisdom and experiences in life.

In conclusion, I am very joyful as a stay-at-home wife/mom.  I know that this position best serves our family and it gives me opportunities for service and growth that would be squelched if I were putting Abigail in a daycare and working from 9-5 during the week.  I am grateful for a husband who is willing to work hard to provide for our family so that  I can stay at home with our children.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our ultimate goal is to honor the Lord with our marriage and the structure of our family and Raymond and I both believe that this is best done with him providing for/leading our family and me staying home to care for our children (Lord willing, there will be more) and our house.

Thank you to all who read these posts and I openly welcome questions, comments, and ridicule :)

Why I am a Stay-at-Home Mom — Part 2

Is this what you think of housewives?

There are many reasons that we have structured our family in this way, even as Raymond pursues a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. (which he will begin in August 2011, Lord willing).  The primary reason is that we believe the Lord is most honored when we, among other things, strive for Raymond to be the primary provider of our home financially and for me to be the helper to Raymond so that our home is in order and functional and he is able to complete with excellence the work that the Lord has given him to do.  God created man to fulfill the role of leader and worker while he created woman to be the man’s helper (that is, the woman complements her husband and helps him in the task that God has given him) (Genesis 2:15-24; Ephesians 5:22-33).  This role of helper manifests itself in many ways, some are universal while others are particular to our situation, and will modify and adjust as our situation in life changes.  Most importantly, I nourish him with food, I create a relaxing atmosphere in the home, I provide verbal affirmation of the work he is doing and the leadership he provides for our family, etc (Raymond also does many things that serve me, but my focus in this post is on my responsibilities…Raymond does not think of me or treat me as a slave).  Before we had Abigail, I was not only working at Starbucks but attending the University of Louisville as well, and I can honestly say that it is impossible for me to do all the things I would like to do around the house and for Raymond (not to mention adding children into our life) if I have work responsibilities outside of the home.

Of course it would be really nice to make some extra money and it would probably be a lot less stressful for me if I put Abigail in a daycare and paid somebody to take care of her, especially when she’s fussy or having a bad day, but all the reasons I can think of for wanting to work outside of the home are self-serving and they only reveal the idols of materialism and success in my heart.  The Lord has given us everything we need through Raymond’s jobs and the generosity of others and faithfully parenting our children is more important than financially supporting any frivolous/materialistic whims we might have.  We definitely have to work really hard at using our money wisely and finding creative ways to save money, but it is worth it to know that we are honoring the Lord with the decisions we have made regarding our family.

Least importantly, though still a very valid reason, is that staying home with our children is best for them psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, etc.  Much research has been done confirming that a traditional family of one man and one woman who have not been divorced/remarried where the father provides financially and the mother focuses her attention on caring for their children creates the most suitable environment for raising socially mature children (I am primarily referencing The Natural Family by Allan Carlson & Paul Mero though I’m sure that there are other resources).  We want our sons to learn how to be godly men, protecting and providing for their families, and we want our daughters to learn how to be godly women, having a quiet and gentle spirit and joyfully submitting to their husbands.  In order to accomplish this, Raymond and I have to model what we think godly manhood and womanhood is.

Coming to the end of Part 2, I’m pretty sure there will be another post for this series.  I think the topic of that one will have something to do with the practical outworking of being a stay-at-home mom (how I fill my day, what I do to save money, etc).