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Family Update

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our everyday life and the things that we are doing as a family.  Before our sweet little girl arrives I thought I would just take some time to document some of the ways that God has been working in our lives.

I hosted and attended a doula training in March.  What I originally thought might be 3 or 4 of my friends joining me turned into 19 women being trained to support other women during the joy of childbirth! 

A couple of days after the doula training I attended my first birth.  It was an absolutely amazing, beautiful natural birth that ended with the babies father welcoming his son into the world with prayer.

And shortly after that I attended another birth.  It was another beautiful, natural birth with the mother being surrounded by the women who love her.

We are back at SKY Farmers Market this year.  Selling Heirloom tomatoes, Cantaloupe, Watermelon and Sweet Corn!

The kids life experiences continue to be our top priority.  Homeschooling has been such a good fit for our family.  Rather than focusing on a scheduled school time we have really evaluated how we spend all of our time.  We spend more quality time together doing things that build relationships, teach real life applications and strengthen our relationship with Jesus and all of his people.

Art

Music

History

Exploring

Playing

Homeschool Co-Op

Working

and now Waiting…

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A Review of Not Buying New

I have found {Not Buying New} very liberating.  There is something very freeing about knowing you can go anywhere, anytime and not be tempted to make a new purchase.  If I see something I want it gives me time to decide if it is really worth the effort trying to find it used.  If I do determine that it is a need (this happens very rarely now) then I add it to my post-it note of things to look for at goodwill, ebay or to trade for.  But most of the time I decide that we really don’t need it.

Not only are we trying not to not buying  buy new, but we are also getting rid of the old.  We have downsized the items in our home by about 50% in the last year.  We spend less time dealing with clutter, picking up unused toys or sorting through clothes to find the same old ones we wear all the time anyway.  We feel less tied down to our stuff.

I need to throw in a disclaimer here.  Because I started this post a while back and since then I have purchased a coffee pot and blender, 2 sports bras and 6 pairs of underwear, some maternity clothes and a pair of black athletic pants.  Want to make sure I am completely honest!  But I will say that I did my research and purchased those items at a huge discount!  When did undergarments get so expensive?  I also stepped back into a Target for the first time in 19 months.  And let me tell you that have this consumerism thing down pat…most of the above items came from Target on one shopping trip!

So if you know me at all you probably realize that I take things pretty seriously, you might even say a little over the top.  And I’d agree with that.  I enjoy challenging myself and taking things one step further.  

My desire to buy less comes from a need to be frugal and a conviction that there is just too much stuff out there.  

It’s more than recycling.

It’s discovering the things we need among the things no one else wants anymore.

It’s finding pleasure in the things we already own.

Or simply living with less.


Thank you for becoming more than a community to us…you are our family. We have been so blessed this past year and cannot wait to share our futures with you. Watch the video to the end for a special announcement!

Advent Conspiracy

Interested in slowing down and enjoying this Christmas season?  

Watch This Video

One of the ways that our family is slowing down, spending more time together and putting our focus on our savior’s birth is by making  gifts for those we love.  We are upcycling some of our favorite things into something special and new.

Upcycled Crayons

Preheat Oven to 200 degrees.  Peel and Break Crayons.

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Spray pan with cooking spray.  Fill to the top with broken crayons.

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Place in oven until crayons are melted.  You may have to add a few crayons.

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Allow crayons to cool and seperate from pan.

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Kids love banging the crayons out of the pan!

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Put a smile on someone’s face!

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Upcycled Shirts

Any t-shirt will work.  Find an item you would like to scan or a photo from the internet.

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Print the image (you can always increase or decrease the size)

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Cut out the image

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Use template to cut out felt patterns.  Add embellishments if you want.

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Sew onto the shirt with embroidery floss.

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Other Shirt Ideas

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I am sure that washing on a delicate cycle or by hand would be the best method.  But we just throw all of our clothes into the same wash with no problem!

Upcycled Clocks

Select an item to upcycle into a clock…the possibilities really are endless.  You can buy clock mechanisms for around $5 or use one out of a used clock (goodwill and grandma’s attic have them for less than $1)

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Remove the clock mechanism, the pieces just pop apart!

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Use the center of the old clock to determine which size drill bit to use.

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If making a book and you want it to close, you can cut a square out for the base of the clock mechanism.

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Snap all of the pieces back into place.  You have a clock!

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Coming Soon!

Buy & Sell on Ebay

Thrifting for Gifts

Have Kids and Save Money

Laundry Soap {- the suds}

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There are some things in life that are so simple that we just suppose they aren’t as good as the more complicated, expensive, and artificially made.  I had this recipe for laundry detergent for a long, long time but just kept waiting to take the plunge.  But once I did I can’t tell you how excited I was to be able to save on detergent and stop lugging those huge containers in on grocery day!

Here’s the recipe.  Warning:  please do not eat.

5 Gallon Bucket

Three Gallons Hot Water-straight from the tap

1/2 cup of Borax

1 Cup Washing Soda

1 Bar of Soap (you can use scented or scent free)

Step One:  On your stovetop heat 4 cups of water and shave the bar of soap slowly into the water until it is dissolved (keep the water below boiling).

Step Two:  Add this mixture to three gallons of hot water using your 5 gallon bucket.

Step Three:  Add the Borax and Washing Soda

Step Four:  Let it sit overnight. 

Use about 1 Cup per load.  You can also use 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (added to the fabric softener dispenser) to rinse water for a squeaky clean wash.

Cost:  3 cents per load (compared to 30 cents for store brands)


Don’t have a 5 gallon bucket or a place to store one?  Don’t want to cook soap on your stovetop?  You can also try this super quick and easy dry soap method.

Just combine 4 cups of soap flakes, 2 cups of washing soda and 2 cups of Borax in a glass jar with a lid.   

 

Want to make up a Free & Clear detergent for towels, cloth diapers, children’s clothes but need some “good” scent for your husbands work clothes?

Just add a small amount of sweet or spicy essential oils to detergent for that load!

 

And just a side note:  this detergent will not be sudsy like store bought detergent.

Finding Our Gilgal

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I love how Beth Moore’s brain works, I imagine it is a lot like mine, except that I don’t have all of those scriptures floating around in there, although I am working on that…very…slowly…working on that.  It gives me hope to compare my life experiences to those in the bible that messed up but saw God at work in their life.  Reminds me that I am flesh and all of the people around me are flesh.  The truth is that we screw up, hurt each other, struggle to make up and then usually do it all over again.  The problem is that if you stay in the cycle of defeat you may find deliverance as Moses did, but you will never get to the promised land-your Gilgal, as the Israelites finally did after decades of defeat.

Nathan and I have recently found our Gilgal and while I know we won’t be permanently residing here, I do believe that God has given us the answers so we can finally pass the test.  He wants us to live our marriage the way he designed it.

Now I have to add that Nathan and I have a wonderfully blessed marriage.  We work really hard to meet each others needs and are very focused on keeping our priorities straight.  But the truth is that we both came to our marriage as, well, humans.  Our own selfishness and limitations can and do rise to the surface from time to time.  Like most couples, I imagine, we have periods of greatness where everything seems to be going really well.  We are communicating with each other like civilized adults, spend lots of time snuggling, catching each others eye from the other side of the room.

And then…

You know what happens.  Someone gets their feelings hurt (usually me), or someone gets the bank statement (not usually me) and things just aren’t as peachy anymore.  It’s amazing how quickly this can happen too.  All of a sudden I am doing my regular chores with the energy of a triathlon and the attitude of a three year old.  And at this point anything he says is going to make me upset.  We were both failing the test.

While we did have more days in that state of marital bliss we did have more days than we would like to admit in the (D-) category.  One morning when we were not communicating very well we both stood there staring at each other.  We didn’t want to hurt each other so we both realized that we better not say anything at all.  We were at a moment of testing, but we didn’t want to fail anymore.  We wanted to believe, in each other, in what God wanted for us.  We both prayed to ourselves and God showed up.

So we found ourselves days from our 7th anniversary going to marriage counseling at our church.  We discovered what we already knew.  Men and women are different and that is okay, God created us that way.  We were given the tools (answers to the test) to communicate in a healthy way.  And told that it would be hard at first and require a lot of practice, again we figure that would be the case. 

But then we were told something that we had not really thought about before.  As we have been chugging along in life we weren’t exactly  headed in the same direction.  I was headed North at warp speed and Nathan was enjoying a slow stroll South.  We needed to decide where we wanted to go together as a couple and as a family.  So together we worked on our goals and plans for the future.  We shared the life experiences that we hoped to have and the things we didn’t want to miss on the journey.  We talked, cried, shared our biggest hopes and dreams.  As partners in our marriage we created a roadmap in which we can direct every decision, commitment and activity of our lives.  And on our 7th anniversary Nathan hand wrote the Howell Family Vision and brought it to me with a bouquet of flowers.  We had found directions to our Gilgal.

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Only As God brings us full circle and breaks the cycle of failure we have been working on for so long can we finally start believing in Gods ability to work in our marriages.  We begin to see what he originally intended for man and wife and that he must be the center of our marriage for us to get there.  Now we won’t always be in Gilgal, I realize that, but now that we have seen it and have the map to get there we can come back more quickly than ever before.

In Gods Word

41kFAiJ2XDL._SL210_I have met a couple of very dear friends through the internet, mostly through my original blog {fresh floral art}.  While I realize that the internet is not a place to seek and invest great amounts of time on friendships I do believe that God brings people together, even online.  My friend Sarah is one of those people.  We challenge one another, pray for each others children and provide honest feedback for each other when we need it.  While we may never meet IRL (in real life), we look forward to the day when we greet each other in heaven and chat about our homeschooling ventures over coffee (that’s how it plays out in our head anyway).

Sarah is my friend I go to when I am trying to streamline and organize my life.  Her latest advice came from a need for a simple way for me and the kids to study the bible every day.  Through the bible with my child is the perfect addition to our curriculum.  It is set up so that you study the entire bible every four years and it can be repeated several times during a child’s homeschool experience.  It also includes questions and writing supplements.  While I may order the book so I can hold it in my hands, I started by downloading it HERE.