Sunday, January 31, 2010

How cold is it???

I couldn’t resist…

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Now that’s cold!!!

The 2010 Blizzard

No, we didn’t get a few flurries.  We didn’t even get 3 inches (as one Coloradan-not my parents-asked when he heard about Virginia’s declared state of emergency).  We got a whopping 9 inches of snow!  That’s right…9 inches!

Here’s the facts:

  1. Virginia Beach received 9 inches, and the official report for the airport (Norfolk) was 5.5 inches.
  2. This is the most snow our region has received in 10 years.  The last major snow was in 1989, where two different storms in the same month dumped 9 inches, and 15.4 inches.  Before that, in 1980, we received 13.7 inches.  The circus happened to be in town, giving that storm the name of “circus blizzard.”
  3. In less than 24 hours, State Police reported 443 car crashes throughout the region.  Only 19 had minor injuries, and there were no fatalities.  (These statistics from the Virginian Pilot newspaper).
  4. Our church services were cancelled today.  Our pastor said it’s only the second time he has cancelled services in 21 years.
  5. Ben is not expecting to work tomorrow.  How can you spray a house for bugs with 8 inches of snow?

We ventured out yesterday morning, just for the sake of adventure.  There were about 4 inches at that point, and it was still coming down hard.  The main roads were a mess, and they looked as if they hadn’t been plowed.  Yet the side roads leading into Target and the grocery store were scraped clean.

People have been going in and out of our court.  Everything is a solid layer of ice.  The sun was out briefly today, and a few places started to melt.  What resulted is about 8 inches of icy water that will probably freeze tonight.

Here are some pictures.  You can see video of the beginning of the storm in my post here.

Virginia Beach Snow Storm

Virginia Beach Snow Storm

Virginia Beach Snow Storm

Virginia Beach Snow Storm

Just in case anyone was wondering!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Coupon Savings for 2009

I starting tracking my coupons and savings in March of 2009.  I kept track until Elaine was born on November 5th.  After that I never got back to writing it down, and I didn’t do very much grocery shopping or couponing for several weeks.

Total Coupons Used: $916.63

Total Store Sales: $980.52

Total saved for eight months of 2009: $1880.68!

I guess it was worth the cost of my Sunday newspaper subscription!

We are having a snow storm!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Elaine is 12 Weeks Old!

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Elaine’s outfit came from Grandma Godby for Christmas.  I don’t think the headband came with it, but I love it!

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This is Elaine with her monkey from Great Uncle Hans & Great Aunt Karen.  Ben had a bear named “Withus” (there’s a story behind it!), and I had “Mr. Bear.”  Elaine has her monkey – we’ll let her name him when she is older.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I love cheese!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my grocery savings.  Shopping has not been as frequent with meals from church members after Elaine’s birth, Thanksgiving at friends’ house, Christmas in Colorado, and a week in New England.  I haven’t been using my coupons as much because we haven’t needed much.  But today I got a great deal, and I wanted to share!

I love cheese, and I love it even better when it is on sale!  I got everything in the picture below (that’s 8 bags of Kraft shredded cheese, 2 blocks of Kraft Cracker Barrel cheese, and 9 packages of 2% singles) for $15.35 (including tax)!  That’s a savings of 74%.  Regular price for this cheese would have been $61.51! 

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MoneySavingMom (my favorite coupon blog) hosted an “Eat from the Pantry Challenge” in January.  The goal was to eat only from the stockpile and spend as little as possible on groceries.  Her goal was $75, and she made it.  We’re having an Eat from the Pantry Challenge in February, and my goal is to shave $100 off my monthly food budget, bringing it to $73.20.  I’ll let you know how I do!

To Capture Elaine…

After our (almost very expensive) portrait session on Friday, Ben encouraged me to try taking similar pictures at home.  I insisted I couldn’t take pictures like that, but I decided to give it a try.  I had just received my monthly photo tip email from the camera store, and lo & behold it was on baby photography.

So on Saturday I moved my bench and got out my boppy and white sheet, just like the photographer did.  I dressed Elaine, and opened the window to allow natural sunlight to be my lighting. 

And wouldn’t you guess…it was NOT a good day for Elaine!  She didn’t like being dressed up, her hair didn’t cooperate, she was drooling all over everything.  She didn’t want to be held.  She didn’t want to play.  She REALLY didn’t want to sit in that boppy, and she DEFINITELY didn’t want to smile! 

So grab some popcorn, pull up a chair, and enjoy the story of my “photo shoot” with Elaine…

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“I don’t feel like holding my head up”

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“How’s this face?  Do you like this look?”

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“I’m happy when Mom leaves my paci in my mouth”

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“Hey Mom, look what I can do with my tongue!”

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“I’m getting hungry.  Are we almost done?”

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“I think I’m gonna cry.”

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“I warned you.  I’m not happy anymore!”

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“What’s that over there?  It looks more interesting that that camera.”

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(Mom) “Finally!!!  A smile.  I’ll take it.  Let’s be done with this!”

But, now that I finally got that smile, I’m exceedingly pleased with it, and I can hardly remember how frustrated I was that she smiled for the photographer, and not for me!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Elaine’s (almost) Three Month Pictures

Elaine will be three months on February 5, 2010.  She is just over 11 weeks right now.  We had a coupon for a free portrait session, so we went and had pictures taken yesterday.  I was so pleased with the results, and I had a hard time choosing my favorites.  Here are the two we got, and the rest can be viewed for 60 days by clicking the following link:

http://www.picturepeople.com/sso/publishconfirm.sso?data=IeN7Vu%2fLj%2bjgt5E29dzFCz%2beqjzQ%2fHj37ifXRPAOaB3EWC9XNYCLdf8DnpvEdrFR2HvV29js645FE8JWmhV3DA%3d%3d

Elaine 11 Weeks Portraits
Ben is a little embarrassed about this naked picture.  He agreed that it’s okay, as long as we don’t take anymore naked pictures in the future.  In my defense, I didn’t intend to have Elaine’s picture taken like this…it was the photographer’s idea!  But once I saw it, I fell in love with the smile and I still can’t believe this is my baby!

Elaine 11 Weeks Portraits
This sweet little dress came from Elaine’s Grandma Hamilton.  Her smile is even better in the close up shot (available online), but I wanted to see the whole dress and her pretty shoes (from my Aunt Robin).

Grandma & Grampa Hamilton

Elaine enjoyed some time with her Hamilton Grandparents last week while we were on vacation.  We didn’t take many pictures, but she has been smiling and playing a lot more, and it was so much fun to spend time with her last week!

Elaine 10 Weeks Grandma Hamilton

Elaine 10 Weeks with Grampa Hamilton

Elaine 10 Weeks with Grandma Hamilton

A Hamilton Family Picture

We took these while we were “home” in New England last week.  It was great to be together again!

Elaine 10 Weeks Hamilton Family
Evan, Dad/Jim, Ben & Elaine, Andrea, Mom/Sissy, Meredith

Elaine 10 Weeks Hamilton Family The Hamilton Girls

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Elaine’s Baby Dedication

Elaine Baby Dedication On Sunday, January 17th we participated in a child dedication at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pittsfield, MA.  This is the church where Ben grew up.  Pastor Neiner called us to the front of the church along with three other families.  He took us through the Scriptures regarding the parents’ responsibility to raise their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 

I liked that Pastor Neiner made it very clear that this is not baby baptism, nor is the church imparting salvation to the children.  The purpose of dedicating Elaine is a public declaration on the part of Ben and I that we intend to raise her as the Bible prescribes.  Pastor Neiner also touched on the fact that the church has a responsibility to teach the children that God brings into their influential sphere. 

At the end Pastor Neiner had two deacons pray over the children being dedicated.  Jim Hamilton (my father-in-law) prayed for the parents and their responsibility to their children, and another deacon  prayed for the church to fulfill their responsibility. 

Elaine Baby Dedication The families and children involved in this Parent-Child dedication are: (from left to right)
Ross & Michelle Kunzmann – Abigail
Ben & Andrea Hamilton – Elaine
John & Erin Neiner – Caiden
Doug & Crystal Neiner – Cody and Ruby

Elaine Baby Dedication Elaine Baby Dedication
Prayer of Dedication                          Ben, Andrea, & Elaine

Elaine Baby Dedication
The Kunzmann Family and the Hamilton Family; Pastor Neiner

Elaine Baby Dedication
Same as above; Dad Hamilton on far left.  Here Pastor Neiner is explaining the purpose of a Baby Dedication and the parental responsibility according to the Bible.

The song we sang before the dedication is “Lord Bless Our Home” by Ron Hamilton.  I thought it was very appropriate, wanted to share the text with you.

Fam’lies all around us are crumbling ev’ry day,
Yielding to the enemy and throwing life away.
Bind our lives together, Guard us with Your truth;
When the struggle seems too great, Lord, keep our eyes on You.

Thank You for Your goodness; our love was in Your plan.
Help us face the future always trusting in Your hand.
Keep us warm and tender; Keep us clean and pure.
Drive us to each other’s arms, and make our love endure.

Lord, bless our home, protect our home;
Let it be a refuge in this world of sin.
Lord, reign within, keep us strong and true;
And when we need You most, Lord, draw us close, committed to each other.
Lord, bless our home; we give our home to You.

Wordless Wednesday

Elaine 10 Weeks

Cat nap with Grandma Hamilton

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Big Announcement…

For several months now Ben and I have been praying for God’s direction regarding our future. Ben will finish his classwork in April, and our lease is up at the end of May. We believe that God has the “next step” for us around that time period.

Ben surrendered to the ministry at age 13. He feels called to be a church-planter. During Bible college Ben spent a summer in New York City with a Jewish ministry internship called Shalom Ministries. Since that time Ben has had a desire to work in a city ministry. When we were dating we talked and dreamed a lot about going to New York City. For the last year we have been praying seriously as to whether God would call us to the City.

Last semester, Ben contacted Pastor Jim Bickel at Bethel Baptist Fellowship in Brooklyn, New York. Ben was at BBF for the summer of his internship with Shalom Ministries. Pastor Bickel has trained other men who have then started churches. Bethel has a Russian church that meets in the same building. They also reach out to the Jews in New York City, believing that the Gospel is to “the Jew first and the Greek equally.” Pastor Bickel told Ben that he was willing to work with Ben as an assistant with the end goal of Ben leaving to start a church-plant. We have been praying for “unmistakable Holy Spirit guidance” in this matter.

Last weekend we visited Pastor Bickel in Brooklyn and attended services at Bethel Baptist Fellowship. We further discussed the possibility of Ben working as Pastor Bickel’s assistant. Pastor Bickel told us that he wanted us to come, as long as it is God’s will for us to come.

We have told Pastor Bickel that we will give him a definite answer by the end of February. If we go to Brooklyn, we would plan to arrive at the beginning of June. God will have to show us very definitely that He wants us in Brooklyn. Ben will need to work a full time job. God will have to provide that job, as well as an affordable apartment. We are committed to dedicating ourselves to prayer between now and the end of February

We would covet your prayers on our behalf in this matter. We need God’s clear guidance and direction. As God brings us to your mind, please pray for this clear direction, and that God will provide a job and an apartment if this is His will.

Happy 10 Week Birthday Elaine!

Today Elaine is 10 weeks old.  I can hardly believe that my little baby has been with us for so long!  I can see her getting bigger and stronger every day.  She is still small and petite, but quite tall for her age (68th percentile!).  Elaine is wearing some 3-6 month sized clothing just because she needs the extra length! 

Elaine has been curious from the beginning, and she is very good at holding up her head even though she is only two months old.  During her “tummy time” today she held her head very high for quite a long time.  She also grasped her rattle and played with it for the first time today.  She can scoot off the blanket when she’s on her back, and it seems as if she would crawl if she could only figure out how to raise her knees.  She definitely wants to be mobile!  She is also starting to blow spit bubbles and make lots of noises.  (You can see it in the video below).  Elaine has slept through the night a few times, and she has hit a growth spurt which makes her hungry all the time.  Here is a video from our play time today.

Elaine 10 Weeks Holding Head Up

Elaine 10 Weeks First RattleSee my new spit thing?  I like making noises and faces with my lips!

Great-Grandma Hamilton

After we visited with the Meaders we headed to Cape Cod to visit Ben’s Grandma.  She is almost 87, and not doing so great in health. We wanted Grandma to be able to meet her great-granddaughter.   Ben’s dad, Jim, met us at the Cape and we had lunch with Grandma.  Then we enjoyed an afternoon visit.  Grandma was thrilled to meet and hold Elaine.  We took some generational pictures.

Hamilton Four Generation Picture
Jim, Ben, (Elaine’s) Great-Grandma Hamilton, and Elaine

Elaine Meets Great-Grandma Hamilton
Ben, Andrea, Great-Grandma Hamilton, and Elaine

Elaine Meets Great-Grandma HamiltonElaine and her Great-Grandma, Anne Hamilton

Special time with the Meaders

We left Virginia Beach on Saturday, January 9th headed for New England.  We spent the night in New York City and visited a church on Sunday morning.  (More on NYC to come).  The church has a morning service, lunch, and then an afternoon service.  When we left New York, we headed for Waterford, Connecticut to visit our college friends Donny and Erika Meader.  Donny and Erika were in our wedding, and we were in their wedding.  Donny is the Assistant Pastor at Lakes Pond Baptist Church, and Erika is expecting their first child (due on July 5th).  We enjoyed seeing the church and just visiting together.  The Meaders have a lovely home, and they were very gracious hosts (especially considering that Elaine was not in the best of spirits).  After a leisurely breakfast on Monday we loaded into the car again headed for Cape Cod.

Elaine and the MeadersDonny, Erika, and Elaine

Elaine and the MeadersErika, Elaine, and Andrea

Elaine Meets Fezzik

Ben’s mom has an 85-pound St. Bernard dog named Fezzik.  He is big, but very gentle and protective of Elaine.  Here is a video of them meeting each other!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I’ve been a little behind!

In the midst of our travels I have fallen behind in posting.  I arrived home from Colorado on New Year’s Eve.  After catching up on the piles of laundry, teaching a couple of piano lessons, taking Elaine for her two-month check-up, and having the car serviced, I re-packed our suitcases and we loaded the car headed for New England.  (More on that trip to come!)  So here are the rest of the pictures from Colorado.

Christmas
The Hamiltons on Christmas morning.

Elaine

Elaine

Elaine

Elaine

Elaine's First Tea Party
Elaine with Grandma Godby and Mommy at her first tea party!

Elaine & the Kubick Girls
This is Stephanie Kubick and Elaine.  Stephanie was the flower girl in our wedding.

Elaine & the Kubick Girls
Stephanie’s sister Katie.

Worldless Wednesday

Elaine on New Year's Walk
Bundled up for a New Year’s Day walk on the Beach.  Brrrr!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Elaine meets the Pauls

While we were in Colorado, Elaine met the Pauls – my mom’s side of the family.  Though they can be scary at first (ha-ha), Elaine adjusted well and slept through most of it!

Christmas Eve
Uncle Scott

Christmas Eve 
Aunt JoEllen

Christmas Eve
Cousin Nicole & Uncle Scott

Elaine's First Tea Party
Aunt Robin

Great-Grandma Paul & Elaine
Great-Grandma Paul

Grandpa & Elaine
Great-Grandpa Paul