Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 End of Year Meme

This is my sixth year doing an end-of-the-year meme here!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Took on the exciting challenge of homeschooling all six of my children.

Got an exercise partner and got going with a regular workout plan that is working great 7 months later!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yes I did, and yes I will.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Friends from church just had twins last week! Other friends at church had their second child.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My Gram died in July. It still hurts. She was awesome.

Our rescue dog Marlee died two weeks ago. Knowing and loving Marlee has changed me forever.

5. What countries did you visit? None, as usual.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Brain space.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Last year's meme mentioned something really difficult that our family was experiencing. The day that was resolved for us (which took all the way until June) was important.

I traveled to visit my Gram in May, taking a special trip there because we knew she was declining in her health. I knew it would be the last time I saw her. It was a good visit. I'm glad I went.

Seeing our dog Marlee through to the end of her life is something I will remember forever.

My brother and his girlfriend, my sister, and my mom and her husband all came here to spend some days with us after Christmas, and it was great to spend that time with them.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving and thriving through some really tough stuff. And embracing homeschooling all six kids. And losing 30 pounds!

9. What was your biggest failure? I've had too many blessings to recall any failures.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not that I remember.

11. What was the best thing you bought? The best thing I "bought" was No Regrets, by following my heart on many things, from the travels I took to spend time with much-loved family members, to the way we continued to care for our sweet dog until she died. Peace of mind and soul is a very valuable thing to possess.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? (same answer as last year) Mine! Saying yes to homeschooling, and being fiercely committed to what I feel is the right thing for my kids, even when difficult, is something I celebrate.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted? Thankfully I cannot think of who that would be.

14. Where did most of your money go? Living!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My oldest son choosing to be homeschooled again, and the way he is loving it. I am so blessed to be surrounded by my fabulous kids every day!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? The first is a good one from the radio, and the FF5 is a fun memory from when I went to Ichthus with my teenagers in June!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? definitely happier
b) thinner or fatter? 30 pounds thinner!
c) richer or poorer? richer!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? I don't know if I wish I had, but it would have been nice to rest more and read more. For some crazy reason I don't have much time for those items....

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? I could say crying, except the amount of crying I did is only because of how deeply I love. And I wouldn't want to change that.

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? Going to a dear friend's birthday party, and then playing games with the kids, and then hanging out with my hubby. :)

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? I'm always in love.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Deadliest Catch, Castle, Survivor

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't do hate.

24. What was the best book you read? Stretching Lessons by Sue Bender. Wonderful!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Family Force 5 (discovered at Ichthus)

26. What did you want and get? A wide flat screen computer monitor. (thanks honey!) Now I can see two browser windows at once!

Also, help cleaning my house. Yay! A longtime dream of mine that last year I wrote about as a thing I wanted but did not get. This year I decided to get the help when I could afford it, and it has been absolutely lovely. In 2010 I hope to get even more help. I sure could use it!

27. What did you want and not get? Can't think of anything.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? The Proposal

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 38 this year, and I didn't have a cake because I had stopped eating sugar a month before. :) 38 has been sweet nonetheless.

30.What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying? Spending more time with my extended family.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Improving!

32. What kept you sane? Remembering the reasons why I have chosen the path I'm on.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Can't think of any fancies...

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Politics doesn't stir me much.

35. Who did you miss? My Gram. I miss her every day, but thankfully have a zillion excellent memories to reflect on.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Right now I can't think of a totally new person, but there are several people in my life that have been wonderful to get to know better.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. This wasn't a new lesson, but am important one to be reminded of: Make decisions based on your solid beliefs, and live them out in the best way you know how. You will be blessed.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. From Michael Franti: "I love you! I love you! I love you!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

A few thoughts on the Law of Love and the ceasing of oppression Share

Today in church we sang Oh Holy Night. The third verse says:

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

I had so many thoughts going through my head:

He taught us to love one another: How many of us hold back our love for others? I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to give love to our dog Marlee as well as the people in my life. I learned a lot from that experience and will always be thankful for the opportunity she gave me, and the time we shared together. Sometimes people treat their love like a commodity that might run out if they spread it around too much. I think giving love away helps us have more love. If you don't believe me, how about if you try it and get back to me?

The law of love and gospel of peace: How simple. And simply beautiful. I wish more of us could let the law of love guide us, and that we would all choose peace any time it can be possible. What would our decisions look like if we let the law of love guide us?

The slave is our brother. In His name all oppression shall cease:

I thought of the precious, innocent little children used a human slaves for sick perverts, and organizations like that serve and save these children. It's amazing how small an amount of money you can give that will literally save a child's life.

People living as immigrants in foreign lands, far from their families, suffering, struggling, at the mercy of others who take advantage of them, with little or no hope of return.

I also thought of the 20 families represented that came to the food pantry last Thursday, and how sad it made me to see so many people in such need.

God, help me find ways and strength to reach out and be a source of comfort and assistance to others!

Sunday, December 06, 2009


One of the things I've been learning about and growing in is being more aware of how I'm feeling, and not being afraid to make decisions that feel right for me, instead of constantly putting myself second to other people and issues.

Today I got on a roll with tackling some household projects that needed to get done. It was one of those elusive days when I had the energy and focus to really make headway on something. As the day went on, several emotional issues came up. By this evening, I feel tired and sad. I was supposed to go to our church Christmas party tonite. It would mean that I had to stop the thing I was enjoying making progress on, to make dinner, clean up the kitchen, straighten my hair (a lengthy process), and find something festive to wear (not too easy for me--owner of the USA's smallest female wardrobe).

While I was rotating some laundry before getting ready, my husband came along and noticed that I looked out of sorts. "What's wrong?" "I don't want to go! I'm comfy in the clothes I'm wearing, I'm making progress on my project, and I don't care about the party. I'm sad and tired and just want to take care of myself."

"So don't go."

How simple. (I was already thinking that, but did not expect him to be so supportive of it.)

I already had a babysitter lined up. What were my options? Greet her at the door with a check for what I would have paid her had I gone? Could there be something else?

I decided to let her stay and play with the kids while I do whatever I feel like doing. She'll probably go home earlier than expected, but I'll pay her the full amount.

A win-win situation, in my mind. And it feels good to be able to say no to something I wanted to say no to, and not have to work myself up to some social obligation that I've built up in my mind.

*It's been several hours since I wrote the above thoughts. Right now I'm intrigued by how difficult it is for me to take good care of myself, even in the midst of trying to be mindful and purposeful about it. I overdid it on the project, and now my back is hurting. For some reason, even though what I mostly wanted to do was lay down and read a nourishing book, I watched most of a boring documentary before finally telling myself to stop it and go get that book. It's weird, really, how much within me (maybe what I'm conditioned to do?) fights against simply saying yes to what I'd like the most.

A beautiful way to give, and give some more

My 17 year old son told me about TOMS shoes. For every pair you buy, 1 pair is given to a child in need. What a beautiful thing. He asked for a pair of TOMS for Christmas. You betcha!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Buy Handmade: The Melting Pot Candle Company

I just love candles (who doesn't?!) and when I can find
ones that are handmade by a mom, I like 'em all the better.

The Melting Pot Candle Company is owned and operated
by Natasha, a 31 year old wife and mother of 3 (plus one on the way!).

She was kind enough to send me some sample products
to check out, including bath salts,
mini melts, a tart warmer,
a soap sample, and some little tea light candles. PLUS
She's offering a sure to read all the
way to the

bottom of this post for details!
The mini melts are really cute, some even having
sprinkles on them
to make them more festive, and the scents are really
nice and yummy. :) I'm looking forward to giving
some of these
great items as gifts for Christmas. The prices are
bargains--you can really get a lot for your dollar,
and put together a beautiful,
useful, as well as economical gift here.

Natasha shares about how she got started in
her business:

I started making soy and palm tarts because my
favorite tart maker decided to no longer sell her products.
I was on a mission to make the best tarts for the best price.
I love making homes smell great and people happy.

What inspires you?  
My customers inspire me!
I get a lot of feedback from my items and I am grateful
for each and every one of my customers.
I try my best to make sure each and every order to
every person is perfect.
I get a lot of joy trying new things and sending them
as freebies or having particular customers try new products.
I appreciate their thoughts and take them all very seriously.

What are some of your favorite items in your shop? 
Some of my favorite items are my new ones!
I love handmade soap.
With the economy getting tighter and pressing on my
own wallet I could no longer afford to buy from other WAHM's
so I created my own and offer them at the lowest possible prices.

Some of my favorite scents are Oatmeal Milk and Honey,
Wild Mountain Honey, Pink Sugar, Cotton Candy and
Sweet Orange and Chili Pepper!

One of my favorite things about The Melting Pot
Candle Company is their
Random Act of Kindness program.
If you know somebody who needs a "pick me up" or deserves
a little special something, you can send in your story about them.
Once a month
someone is chosen to get a special goodie
package from The Melting Pot for FREE! How sweet is THAT?!
This sort of
thoughtfulness and heart is the kind of thing that makes me
LOVE supporting mom-owned businesses.... Heart!
You can read more about that here.

As I looked through the Melting Pot site I saw over
and over again the sort of thoughtfulness

and heart that goes into this business. From
conscientious shipping policies, and being mindful

of pricing and speedy service, I am impressed and
pleased to recommend The Melting Pot

Candle Company to you. :)


Natasha is offering one lucky winner a candle burner, tea lights, and
5 tarts of their choice of wax (soy or palm) and scent! (photo below shows details)

To enter:

1. Visit The Melting Pot Candle Company and look around.
Come back here and leave a comment, letting me know which 5 scents you'd want to win! Be sure that your email address is included so that I can contact you if you win.

2. To get an extra entry, join their facebook fan page by clicking here. Leave a comment letting me know that you joined and your name as it appears on the fan list.

3. To get another entry, blog about The Melting Pot Candle Company. Leave a comment letting me know you did this, with a link to your post.

1 winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, December 12.

Buy Handmade: Anise Mouette

Anise Mouette is a super-fun place to shop for retro-inspired handmade goodies. Check these out:

Felt Plush Toys!

How cute are these scarves with little animal friends?!
I love these birdies! (Anise sent me a tote bag with this design.
Love it!! Nicely made, and great for a reusable grocery bag!)

Itty bitty finger puppets that are SO sweet!
(I got one for someone on my Christmas list! It is well made and totally adorable.)

Tell a bit about yourself:
My name is Anise and I live in Altadena, California,
with my 22 month old son Cyan and husband Biff.

My Etsy shop is
The name makes up my first and middle names
which are French, though I’m not French,
at least not entirely.

I’m a native Angeleno, though I did live
with my parents in Paris for a brief time in the
early seventies when I was just a baby.

How did you get started creating your products?
When I was a child I loved to draw and over
the years I've taken more art classes than
I can count.

In college I enrolled as an art major, but
I eventually majored in English literature

and then went on to pursue a master's in
creative writing.

Following, I taught collegiate English for
seven years, but with the birth of my son,

I decided to take a break from the working
world and spend more time at home.

In doing so, I was inspired to pick up the
pencil once again.

Memories of my childhood and the playful
nature of my son became the focus of my
work and then,

after stumbling upon Etsy and the Handmade

I was immediately inspired to take my
designs to the next level

and create Anise Mouette - a line of
retro-inspired handmade wares

that include toddler & adult tees,
canvas totes, “kitsch”en magnets, utility aprons,

and now felt goods.
What inspires you? 
As mentioned, both my son and memories
of my childhood inspire me the most,

although I am always up for a challenge
and often try my hand at craft challenges

such as those held on Craftster every month
which allow me the opportunity to

work with new ideas and mediums on a
regular basis.

What are some of your favorite items
in your shop?

Recently, I've started working with felt,
so my newest items are my current favorites.

My "record player" tee and tote come in
at a close second while my customer base
seems to love

my "family fun" items most.

One thing I love hearing about is the
ways that businesses share their
profits with others.

Here's what Anise does:
Since I've taken a break from teaching,
I'm using a portion of all my sales

to purchase baby formula for infants in need
so as to keep contributing to my community.

Once a month I purchase formula locally and
then donate it for immediate distribution

at the Foothill Unity Center in Pasadena, California.

If you're a crafty gal yourself, and want to try your hand
at making some of the

items that you see at Anise Mouette, you can
check out her blog,
where she spreads

the crafty goodness, with her “Kitschy Crafts” section.
Anise posts fun how-to

craft tutorials regularly! Pretty cool, eh?
(I know my 13 year old daughter will be loving this!)

Here's a picture of Anise and her son. Awwwww! :)

Keep up with the latest and greatest at Anise Mouette by joining their Facebook Fan Page here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happiness Lists

Recently I read a series of articles about happiness. Or, more specifically, about why women are reporting less happiness in their lives than ever in the past 30 years, and what we can do about it personally. You can read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 by clickety-clicking. The articles came to me about a week apart from each other, so it gave me time to think about my own happiness, and what I thought contributed to the things I feel happy (or not) about.

In the final article I really liked the suggested lists to make, such as to name the top 20 things that bring you happiness, and the top 20 things in your life that take away happiness. The idea is basically to first identify what activities and people bring you more or less happiness in your life, and then work to cultivate the positive items and reduce the negative ones. I had already taken some steps toward that before even getting the first article, so this was mostly a confirmation for me that I was on the right path.

Tonite I worked on my lists. I'm not good with "top 20" types of things, but I did make some quick lists of whatever sizes came to mind. I don't know if I learned anything new. I think I already know what things I enjoy the most. I do think that identifying those things as strongly as they came across when I was making my list, it gives me some ideas for making time for more of that.

Anyhow--just wanted to share about it here since it seems like a worthwhile activity for many of us. :)

What's something that brings you happiness that you'd like more of in your life?