Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Ben and Elaine Big Ears
Bronx Zoo  (He’s such a good dad!)

Bronx Zoo

Elaine reading to Henry
Love this!

Henry's Play Station
He was causing trouble.  Getting into school.  So Elaine made him a play station.  Lasted five minutes.  First and last play station ever.

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First one awake gets to watch Blues Clues!  Wait…it was Henry?!?!

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Elaine’s Cursive

IMG_3872  IMG_3873
Rib Fingers!  (They want to know when I’m going to make Grandpa’s ribs.  Um…never).

Little League!   Little League!
Little Leaguers!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

I’ve seen a lot of frugal hacks for liquid hand soap going around Pinterest.  Most of them involve grating a bar of soap, adding water, and voila!  You have a ton of liquid hand soap to use as a refill.  However, since there are no preservatives, you are inviting a bunch of bacteria to live in your gallon of liquid hand soap for several months until you get around to using it all up. 

I actually prefer foaming hand soap to straight liquid soap, but either way it’s pretty expensive…especially with five kiddos.  I sometimes wonder how we have so much water and soap sitting on the bathroom counter every time I go in there.  It’s like…could they have even gotten any of it on their hands?!?!  So – we definitely needed a frugal hand soap refill option.

I make small batches of homemade foaming hand soap refill.  This is how I do it…

I use Dial foaming hand soap dispensers.  I’ve tried several brands, including Bath & Body Works, but none of them hold up to constant refilling like the Dial dispensers.  They are several bucks to buy in the store (full of soap, of course), but you can use them over and over again.

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To refill my Dial dispenser bottles, I use Dawn Hand Renewal dish soap.  I like the Hand Renewal version because it’s less harsh on skin even with constant use.  I also always have it on hand, because that’s what I use to wash my dishes.  Smile

To make your refill, squirt about 1/2” inch of soap in the bottom of an empty Dial dispenser.  I don’t measure… I just eyeball it.  It looks about like this:

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Then fill the bottle up with warm water  On the back of the Dial bottle there is actually a sticker with a line that says “Fill to Here” (in case you are buying the Dial refills in the store).  So, I fill it to that line.  Then replace the lid and gently shake it to combine the dish soap and water. 

I’ve read before that the filter which turns the soap into creamy foam is pretty delicate, and you shouldn’t use it with hot water.  I try not to use my soap pump right away after refilling it, but I’ve honestly never had a problem either way.

There you have it.  Rich, creamy, foaming hand soap for a few cents per refill.  Kid friendly, skin friendly, and you’ll use it up before the bacteria takes over.   Some people also add essential oils, but I think that the safest method to use EO’s is diffusing, and to only use topically (and rarely internally) for acute issues.  So…I don’t want them in my daily use hand soap.

 IMG_3870    IMG_3871

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection Sunday

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On the streets of Brooklyn after church…

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Resurrection Sunday

Statue of Liberty

Last Friday, since we did not get to close on the house, we decided to take an outing.  We just needed to get out of the house and direct our attention on something else.  Nolan even cried when we told him about not closing on the new house, so we definitely needed a distraction.  We decided to go to the Statue of Liberty.  We hadn’t been since the first summer we moved to NYC (2010), and none of our Brooklyn Babies had ever been!  The kids were elated. 

We may have caused a little bit of confusion, because after the trip I overheard the twins saying there are two Statue of Liberty’s – one in the water, and one in the grass!  I guess since they have only seen her from the highway, standing out in the entrance to New York Harbor, they thought she was just floating in the water!  When we got to see Lady Liberty in person, they thought it was a different statue – in the grass!

Statue of Liberty
I never get tired of this sight!

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
First arrived on Liberty Island

Statue of Liberty
Hamilton Family // 2017

Statue of Liberty  Statue of Liberty
My City Girl

Danielle Visits NYC - Statue of Liberty and NYC Skyline  Statue of Liberty 
                        //  2010 //                                                  // 2017 //                            

Statue of Liberty  Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty
My Own Lady Liberty

  Statue of Liberty  Statue of Liberty
My Boys

Statue of Liberty Statue of Liberty Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty    Statue of Liberty
I bribed them to stand for one last picture with Oreo Cookies.  Whatever it takes!  Photo credits:  Elaine

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Good Friday

I wrote this post on Friday, but I wasn’t ready to publish it yet. 

While most years find us remembering this “Good Friday” as the day Jesus bore our sins at Calvary, prior to celebrating a glorious Resurrection Sunday, I was all set to enjoy this day, April 14, 2017, as a good Friday for another reason.  Today, at long last, we were to close on the house in the Bronx.

Three years ago we began a life changing journey of deputation.  I admit, it wasn’t anything I had planned on doing (even as a missions major…I thought there must be a way out of it).  But it was good, and hard, and growing, and we crossed the finish line of that season of life on November 28, 2016, when we pulled into our temporary driveway after our last deputation trip.  Near the end of that process, we gave up a much-loved apartment in Brooklyn.  We moved into missions apartment in upstate New York, 2 long hours from my beloved Brooklyn, to save money on the rent.  It has been 19 of the longest months of my life living in this place.  We are secluded, in the middle of tick-infested woods, instead of in the middle NYC.  There are no “quick trips” anywhere as the grocery store is one direction, Wal-Mart the other direction, and the trek into the city for church turns an hour long mid-weed service into an 8-9 hour ordeal. 

I came here kicking and screaming.  I didn’t want to leave the city, and I wasn’t happy to put everything in storage and live in a house over a deserted church building out in the middle of nowhere.  But as I wrestled with God on this issue, I came to see the benefits and the lessons I have learned here as good.  Last April, we began looking for a house to buy instead of an apartment to rent in the Bronx.  The mortgage would be cheaper than rent, and living in Mountainville had enabled us to save up a small down payment which we never dreamed we would have.

We found the.perfect.house in my opinion and had an accepted offer on it, but the neighborhood was bad and in the end so was the electrical wiring so we backed out. I had wanted desperately to shout from the rooftops how God had given us a house in the Bronx, and I was willing to trust Him with the not-so-great neighborhood on the border.  We prayed all summer long, while on the other side of the country, over another property far out of our price range.  We watched the price fall and the house not sell, and we saw God answer prayer after specific prayer.  But in the end, we were leaving Washington State when we got a call saying the seller had accepted a higher bid.  I was devastated.  That was a very difficult, dark season that I walked through in my spiritual life.

We came home at the end of deputation, and nearly fully supported.  After Ben’s ordination we started looking again and a house came up, in a very good neighborhood (where we hadn’t been able to look before because of the average cost), in our target area, and suited our family.  It was a short sale, so it was cheap.  The work which needed to be done was able to be completed by Ben, so we could renovate it on the cheap.  It had a two car garage and thus a guaranteed parking spot on a busy street.  I thought this was the “better” which God was providing after losing the last house for no apparent reason.

IMG_3235We have been through the gamut these last four months, with one problem after another.  We would take two steps forward, and the next email from the bank  or lawyer would send us five steps backward.  We filed for extension after extension, we waited.  God gave us an extra grant from the City, and we thought He was finally starting to provide and to answer our prayers.  At last, on March 9th we were clear to close.  But the seller wasn’t.  There was a problem with the title, and it has taken us five weeks to clear up.  Tomorrow – the last extension on two parts of our paperwork, and they were finally going to close the deal.  Finally. Everyone was squeezing us in on a holiday weekend.  The bankers and underwriting department stayed late on Tuesday, until 8 pm, to give us our closing disclosure in time.

But last night, after 6 pm, a discrepancy was discovered in the short sale approval paperwork, and we were told that the closing was adjourned.  The bankers in Texas had gone home, and wouldn’t be back until Monday.   I thought Ben was playing a joke when he told me.

When we got the notice that we could finally close tomorrow, we thanked God for our house, and then we gave it back to Him.  Hardest thing I have ever done, perhaps.  Sometimes I wonder why this house has been such a trial to me.  After all, it’s not like I have lost a child in pregnancy, or had a parent die, or am in desperate financial straits, or am leaving all of my family for a third world mission field, as some of my friends.  Why is the house so important?

Where has God been?  Why hasn’t He answered our prayers?  Why so many delays?  Doesn’t He want us to start a church in the Bronx?  What am I going to say to the people who keep asking me how are things going?  Now what?  I have wrestled with these questions over and over. I have blamed God.  I have been angry with God.  I have questioned what He is doing.  I have felt alone and deserted.  I have tried to rent an apartment just to get out of all of this.   These questions…and I still don’t have an answer yet.

But I was praying and thinking this morning and I remembered an excerpt from a devotion book called “The Music of His Promises” by Elisabeth Elliot.  She talked about how the disciples were confused when Christ told them of the coming Cross, and the promised Holy Spirit.  After all, they didn’t want the Holy Spirit.  They just wanted Jesus.  Why did He have to go away?  Because it was better.  Because He had a better plan.  That devotion ended with the words to this old hymn, “Still Will We Trust.”

Still will we trust, though earth seem dark and dreary,
And the heart faint beneath His chastening rod;
Though rough and steep our pathway, worn and weary,
Still will we trust in God!

Our eyes see dimly till by faith anointed,
And our blind choosing brings us grief and pain;
Through Him alone who hath our way appointed,
We find our peace again.

Choose for us, God! Nor let our weak preferring
Cheat our poor souls of good Thou has designed;
Choose for us, God! Thy wisdom is unerring,
And we are fools and blind.

So from our sky the night shall furl her shadows,
And day pour gladness through his golden gates,
Our rough path lead to flower-enameled meadows,
Where joy our coming waits.

Let us press on, in patient self denial,
Accept the hardship, shrink not from the loss;
Our portion lies beyond the hour of trial,
Our crown beyond the cross.

Good Friday

Still Will We Trust

Friday, April 7, 2017

How to Draw Lessons

Elaine has been very interested in art for a while, but I am not the one to teach her this subject!  After she drew a…well…quite an awful version of a horse, we decided to find some help and encourage her budding artistry.  I found a YouTube channel called Art for Kids Hub, and in each video a kid draws the picture along with the teacher.  Since I have some perfectionistic kids, this helped them see that their picture doesn’t have to be exactly like the teacher!

Here are some recent samples of Elaine and Nolan’s drawings!  (a 1,000% improvement!)

Elaine's Card for Grams   Elaine's Drawings
Butterfly on a tulip, and a cartoon T-rex (Elaine)

Nolan's T-Rex   Elaine's Drawings
Nolan’s Cartoon T-Rex, and Elaine’s Poppies

Elaine's first How to Draw Picture   Elaine's first How to Draw Picture
Elaine’s first great looking horse – pencil, and colored

Elaine's Sampler
A “sampler” she made for Meredith’s birthday

March in Review

Psalm 91  Henry's Tracts
I started (and completed!!!) a study in Psalm 91 from the Doorposts blog.  This is the first time I have completed a Busy Mama 30 day study in…30 days!  Henry loves his new glasses!

Labeling Tracts for ERBC
Labeling some stray tracts with our new church logo!

Labeling Tracts for ERBC

Reading books during morning devos
The kids enjoyed some quiet reading time while I had morning devotions

Strawberry Jam 2017
We found strawberries for $1 a quart and made 16+ pints of strawberry jam!

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Spring snow storm…to the kiddies delights

Homemade Shamrock Shakes
I have always favored the McDonalds Shamrock shake, with its rich mint flavor only available in the month of March.  My budget couldn’t follow my cravings, especially when the kids got a taste of the deliciousness.  So…we made our own!  They had chocolate chips in them, the only thing lacking from the Mickey D’s version!

Henry Wears Cloth Diapers!    Wearing Grandpa's Boots
I started cloth diapering again with Henry.  Grandma & Grandpa Fezzie came to help us with a St. Patrick’s Day blitz, and Henry enjoyed wearing Grandpa’s boots.

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Bubbles!  I brought home some bubble guns for the twins, and it was Henry’s first real experience with bubbles!  He was hooked!

Visit to Jim & Sissy's
We made a quick one day trip to MA to kill some time, get out of the house, and see Ben’s family.  Everyone loves Grandpa’s recliner…