Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Because More Is So Much Better!

Because we have two computers (our original one we bought YEARS ago and Sweetie's old work laptop) we have pictures on both. So here are more pictures of my new baby niece, from the other computer.

These two black and white pictures are ones I took and turned B&W. I used to take the newborn's pictures at our local hospital and these are two poses I would usually do.

And last but certainly not least, here's my brother and his new family. Aren't they cute!

I Never Knew It Would Feel Like This

I grew up an only child, but I am not an only. I have, what most people call, a half-brother. We share the same father, but not the same mother. (My kids like to call him my "brotha from anotha motha" LOL).

But in our eyes, not having the same mother makes us no less brother and sister. We look alike, we think alike, we feel a lot of the same things and even though we were kept apart for far too many years, it is amazing how many ways we are alike. We like the same foods, the same candy, the same pop. We do things alike without even realizing it. We even both made the same wrong turn one night while not seeing the other one make the mistake first!

When I was 10 and my brother was 3 we were kept apart for the next 7 years. We already lived 865 miles apart. Wasn't that bad enough? After those seven years it was still very sporadic contact. But a few years ago we rekindled our relationship and it is now stronger than it's ever been. I love him fiercly and can't wait to spend time with him and talk to him and do things together. The only problem is? There are 385.06 miles seperating us. Yes, exaclty that far.

And what did he go and do but make me an aunt. A real, 100%, blood-related aunt. I've been an aunt 8 times over on my step-dads side and 11 times over from Sweetie's family and I absolutely LOVE it. I love all my neices and nephews in a very special, deep way and would do anything for them. I love when they climb up into my lap and give me those precious hugs and kisses. I love when the older ones talk with me about things going on in their lives and I love being there for them.

But OH. MY. GOODNESS. I never, in a million years, have ever felt such a strong, passionate love for anything (next to my own children, of course) like I did the first time I held my new baby neice in my arms last week. As soon as I picked her up the tears poured (from me, not her). I can't describe it. It's unlike anything I have ever felt before.

I wanted to sit and hold her and just stare at her for days on end, and I would have if my darn kids would have left me alone and quit bugging me to hold her themselves! Sheesh. I gave her at least a million and one kisses the four days she was here. I got to feed her, change her, lotion her, bath her, and get up with her during the night. Words can not describe to you how much love and joy filled my heart just being able to do those things.

When they pulled out of our driveway to return home, I could not stop the tears that came. I know I'll see them again in a few months (hopefully), but that's not soon enough. Babies grow and change so fast and I don't want to miss a thing! I want to take her shopping and tickle her little belly and smother her with kisses. I want to let her mommy and daddy get some much-needed sleep and get up with her at night again. I want to give her a bath and cuddle her little yummy, lotioned body up against mine. I want to take loads of pictures and I want my kids to play with her and I want to watch her grow, day-by-day.

I'm so thankful that my brother and I are now making up for lost time, but visiting once every few months is just not enough. Sure we talk on the phone and chat on-line, but it's not the same as being able to look at each other while talking, giving each other a hug or a pat (which we both do often), or simply being close.

I also love being a new big sister to my brother's fiance! I daydream about her and I taking day-long shopping trips or helping her decorate her living room or getting a phone call asking how to cook something. She's 14 years younger than me and while I desperatly don't want to sound like a know-it-all to her and try really hard not to, I love giving her tips or advice or maybe just some encouragement, you know, "been-there-done-that, here's what we did, it'll be ok" type of stuff.

Sigh... just thinking about them gets me all choked up again. The only family I've really ever had is my mom and then my step-dad's family. Once I married Sweetie, of course, I inherited his wonderful family and I couldn't have hand-picked a better one to become a part of. But it's still not the same. I see him and his siblings interact and talk and laugh and cut-up and my heart aches for that with my own brother.

Who knows. Maybe the opportunity will come for them to move here some day. It's been discussed several times, but it's a big step. Leaving family, finding a job and a place to live. You know, all that silly important stuff.

So what's the point of me telling you all of this? I don't know really. Just needing to get it all out maybe. Or maybe to explain why I am posting so many pictures of my new baby neice. She is the most perfect and beautiful thing I've ever held, next to my own children of course, and I want to share her precious face with everybody! Plus, she pretties up my blog, dontcha think?

See that adorable, soft, ducky fleece blanket she's laying on? Yep. Her favorite aunt made that for her, thankyouverymuch.

See! Doesn't she look like she belongs in the country more than the city?

Mmm mmm... don't you just love those precious baby kisses? This isn't me, it's mommy, but don't worry, I definitely got my share!

This, however, is me with her. I was loving those adorable little chipmunk cheeks and making funny faces with them. I promise, it was much funnier in person.

However, I don't think she really needs my help to make funny faces. Looks like she's got it down pretty good!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nov. 10-14, 2008: Homeschool Freebies of the Day

Just in time for thanksgiving, here are this week's Homeschool Freebies of the Day!

Monday, Nov 10: Pilgrim Stories I -
From Old Homes to New (PDF ebook)

This week we are featuring this absolutely delightful three part serialization of the story of the Pilgrims - perfect for "read aloud" and sharing with the kids over the next couple of weeks!

In Part One, we meet the Pilgrims and learn why they were forced to leave their homes in search of a place they could freely worship... a journey which had many false starts, and eventually became a hazardous journey across the ocean in hopes of reaching the "New World".

Tuesday, Nov 11: Pilgrim Stories II -
The Wild Land & Thanksgiving (PDF ebook)

In Part Two, the Pilgrims at long last arrive in the "New World", only to find it a truly "wild land" filled with incredible danger and hardship. Providentially, they are befriended just when they need it most, and the very first Thanksgiving is celebrated.

Wednesday, Nov 12: Pilgrim Stories III -
Little Pilgrims & The Red Men (PDF ebook)

In Part Three, we learn how children from the Pilgrim settlement fared with their encounters with their Native American neighbors - this includes some outstanding
stories of danger, adventure & friendship!

Also included in Part Three: A great "Teacher's Guide" to learning more about the Pilgrims' life and times through play-acting and other fun activites. Great stuff!

Thursday, Nov 13: An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
(PDF ebook)

The author of "Little Women" tells this classic story re-capturing the celebration of Thanksgiving as it was observed in the early 1820s in rural New England. It is a tale full of family, fun, humor, long-lost traditions, and the smells and tastes of a Thanksgiving day "way back when".

Friday, Nov 14: The Path of Praise (mp3 audio)
Don't miss this excellent audio program on the history of the observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, from Pilgrim days, through the Revolutionary War and to the Civil War and beyond. Great history that really gives your kids a sense of what the holiday is all about!

Make a note of the ones you want, and be sure to stop by that day and get your copy!

You can download all of these on their respective days at Homeschool Freebie of the Day.

Saving Those Pennies!

I just got back from Kroger where I snagged all of this for a mere $10.12!! You know, I used to think that I couldn't afford to shop at Kroger because their prices are so much higher than Wal-Mart, and on their regular prices without any sales or specials, they are higher. But I am finding that if I'll watch Kroger's sales and match up my coupons I can save a TON compared to shopping at Wal-Mart. I LOVE trips like this one. It puts me on a natural high!

Everything in the picture normally would have cost me $67.29 which means I saved a total of $57.17! That's a savings of 85%! How awesome is that? Wal-Mart has NEVER given me that much love! LOL!

Here's a breakdown of what I spent:

(3)Blueberry Muffins... normally $8.67; I paid $4.80
(4)Hunt's Tomato Sauce... normally $7.40; I paid $3.00
(1)Viva Paper Towels... normally 2.49; I paid $1.00
(6)Carnation Evaportaed Milk... normally $8.34; I paid $3.00
(2)PowerAde Drinks... normally $2.18; I paid $1.25
(7)Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes... normally $12.95; I paid $4.90
(2)Cottonelle 4-packs... normally $1.98; I paid $.98
(2)Herbal Essences Shampoo/Conditioner... normally $6.78; I paid $2.98 (messed this one up; should have been a POSITIVE .02 but my $2/2 e-coupon didn't work and I gave the cashier a $2/2 coupon instead of $3/2 one.)
(1)Tide... normally $7.99; I paid $4.49
(1)Scotch Lint Roller... normally $2.50; I paid $1.00

On top of these great prices I also received $15 off my total because of the great 'Mega' sale they have going on this week! (For those of you who may scrutinize my totals, there was a bit of a mix up and I had to return a few items because some of my e-coupons didn't work. So the amounts don't figure out exact here, but I promise all I paid was $10.12).

And this picture is for my brother who just returned home from visiting with us from Illinois and had to take a picture of this gas sign when it said $1.99. We are LOVING these lower gas prices and thanking God for them while they last.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now What?

President Obama.

For reasons I don't even totally understand, I just can't seem to wrap my mind around those words. It doesn't even look right. Is it just me or do those two words put together look... I don't know, odd?

While I hoped it wouldn't happen, I have to be honest and tell you that I didn't pray against it. That's right. I did not pray for John McCain to win the election. I know many across the country did, but I was not one of them. Instead, I prayed for God's perfect will to be done. I know there were others that prayed this same prayer and I have to believe that God heard those prayers and answered in His own way.

Do I believe it was God's will for Barack Obama to be the next leader of this great country? Well, let me reword that. Do I believe that Obama is the best man to lead the United States of America, the country that was founded on Christian principles and beliefs? Absolutely not. All you have to do is see my previous post and watch him speak directly against God's word. Do I believe that in order for prophecy to be fulfilled that this was the outcome that had to happen? Yes. Yes I do. And that's why I believe that Barack Obama being our next president is all part of a much bigger plan, one that has been in place for thousands of years.

Because of that we as Christians do not need to fear or wring our hands with worry. We have to remember that God is in complete control and that He will be returning for His children very, very soon. I truly believe that with all my heart. And if Obama winning the presidency is going to ultimately be a part of bringing that to pass, then we should be rejoicing because we already know that end of the story! We know that we win!

So what do we do now? We continue doing what we should be doing anyway. We pray. We pray for God's will to continue to be done, whatever that may be. We pray for our country and for wisdom for our leaders. We pray for God's mercy and forgiveness. We pray for protection over our country. We pray for our friends and family members who aren't saved. We pray for our children, that they will live their lives for Jesus.

Pray. We simply pray.