The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

From our family to yours come wishes for a wonderful year. May 2008 be the best year of your life.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Contemporary Furniture

If you like contemporary furniture, you might enjoy browsing Modern Line Furniture.com. They advertise their furniture as discount contemporary furniture. I don't look at furniture often enough to know whether or not they do have good prices, but they seem to have a wide selection of furniture. From sofas to chairs, bedroom sets to complete interior solutions, Modern Line Furniture offers it all.

Where have you found the best deals on furniture? (Most of ours has come from relatives or from garage sales.)

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Still Busy

Whew! When will the craziness end?! With having to design headers for the After Christmas Giveaway which is in full swing at RS Designs, the last thing I needed was computer difficulties, yet that is exactly what I have been dealing with. Our monitor problems became so bad that Mr. Incredible decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a new computer. Oh, yes. Our computer was not wanting to start, either, which played a major role in Mr. Incredible's decision.

Last night, we packed up our Samsonite luggage and headed toward a larger town about 35 minutes from our home. (We didn't actually pack luggage for the trip, but sometimes it feels as though we should!) We hit Best Buy and Circuit City. Prior to our trip, we had done some research on the Internet and had an idea of what we wanted. We found an HP Pavilion that met our needs and purchased it and a 19" widescreen monitor.

I was nervous about making the switch from MS XP to MS Vista. So far, it is going alright. I have had to go online to download Vista-compatible drivers for many of our accessories, and I have not been thrilled about that, but otherwise the transition seems to be going smoothly.

My family's Christmas celebration was supposed to happen today, but about half of the family have caught a virus and are throwing up, so the rest of us decided to postpone the celebration. I wonder why we decided that! *laughing* Since we didn't go out of town, we set up our new computer and played with the girls today. We all had fun.

How is your weekend going?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Do NOT Resolve to...

If I were one to make resolutions, I can tell you one New Year's resolution I would not make this year. I would not resolve to lose weight. I am desperately in need of losing weight, but instead I must be content to gain weight for the next 6 months. I bet there are plenty of people who wish they could say that. *smile*

I do resolve to gain a sensible amount of weight throughout this pregnancy. When I carried my three girls, I never gained more than 23 pounds, and I was quite blessed that all of that weight was gone within seven days postpartum. (I'm not saying my normal weight hadn't been redistributed a bit. *laugh*) I'm hoping that I will be so blessed this time around, too!

After I have the baby, I certainly need to get serious about shedding some of the pounds I have accumulated since I married Mr. Incredible. Although going to a gym and using their exercise equipment (like elliptical trainers) would be great, I actually prefer to work out at home using my set of The Firm workout videos. When it comes time to begin my fitness regimen (ha!), I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Do any of you have exercise and/or workout recommendations?

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Stereo Cabinet

Do you need or want a better way to organize and store your stereo equipment? Have you thought about purchasing a stereo cabinet? There are many different types and a wide variety of prices from which to choose when buying a cabinet. If your home is like mine, additional shelves dedicated to electronic equipment would definitely be a plus!

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Layne Daniel Update

It has been quite a while since I posted an update on our former pastor's condition. After undergoing surgery and months of chemotherapy at UNC Chapel Hill, there were four spots that had doubled in size between MRIs. It was evident that the drug treatment course (chemotherapy) Layne was following was not working well.

As has been the case throughout the whole journey, the Lord provided direction for Layne and his family. They contacted Cancer Treatment Centers of America, an organization that specializes in treating patients with "advancing cancers." Layne and his family were flown to the Philadelphia center where his condition was evaluated and a course of action was proposed.

Layne received his first Cyberknife treatment on December 5 and also started a new chemo regimen. After his suffering another seizure, Layne and Sharon received good news from the latest MRI - before the Cyberknife treatment, the MRI showed reason for concern: a cloudy white area about 2cm large. Since the Cyberknife treatment, the area has nearly disappeared. Praise the Lord for His mercy!

Please continue to pray for this family. This is certainly a time of testing for them, but they are evidence that God is faithful no matter what circumstances come into our lives.

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Hello Again!

Thank you to all who wished me and my family a merry Christmas. I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas yourselves.

We had a great and busy time - three whole days of parties and presents! Last year, Pookie gave Jesus a starfish. This year, she gave Him two seashells. Her simple yet loving gifts are a great reminder to me that God not only accepts but also loves that which is given to Him out of love.

I am behind on answering comments and visiting all my blogging friends. Rest assured that I will be around to your blog again soon. I have missed all of you during my time away from the computer. (I went for three whole days without touching a computer!) I'm also behind on my paid blogging duties, so be prepared for an avalanche of posts with links. *sigh*

In addition to catching up on blogging, Linda and I are running an After Christmas giveaway over at RS Designs. From December 26 (yesterday) through January 1, we are both giving away one free header every day, for a total of 14 free headers. Two of the giveaways will be custom designs; the rest are pre-mades.

If you are interested in winning a free header, all you have to do is leave a comment no later than 8:00 a.m. EST on January 2, 2008, at the post with the header you would like to win. You may leave comments on as many giveaway posts as you would like, but if you win more than one header, you will be allowed to choose your favorite, and the one(s) you don't choose will be given to another contestant. Note: Linda and I decided to reward all contest participants with a $10 discount off their next RS Designs' order of $20 or more.

Have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too Much Stuff!

I've been working on getting the house in order for Christmas - just in case we have company. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep the house clean with these three little girls running around?! While cleaning, I have found several things to declutter: my minimal fitness equipment (a case of free weights in sets of 1, 3, and 5 pounds - I'm certainly not starting an exercise regimen for at least the next 6 months), some of the girls' outgrown clothing, excess toys (where do all those toys come from?), unused Christmas decorations, and much more.

It seems that no matter how much "stuff" I remove from my house, more moves in the very next day. How do you keep from accumulating too much stuff?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Space Saver

I love when companies come up with new space saving designs for everyday products. Take, for example, washers and dryers. Not every home or apartment has enough horizontal room for both appliances. The solution - a stackable washer dryer combination.

I've been blessed to have enough room in both of my homes to have a regular washer/dryer set, but my sister-in-law opted for the stackable washer dryer set when she lived in an apartment. I really liked the arrangement of the set and found it functional as well as compact. Who knows? I may even consider buying such a set when my washer and dryer finally give up the ghost - no time soon, I hope.

Do any of you have a stackable washer dryer set? What are the pros and cons of the combination?

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Stoller Reviews

If you figure that having three older children means that I am pretty well set with baby supplies for this fourth baby, you figure right. Sure, I'll need new supplies of some items: diapers, baby shampoos, and the like. However, we still have our baby swing, exersaucer, high chair, baby bath tub, bassinet, infant car seat, and a few strollers. I saved all those items because I knew that I wanted more children, and I am so happy not to have to purchase those items again. (Actually, I never purchased any of those the first time around, either. They were all given to us.)

If I were in need of one of these items, a stroller, for example, I would certainly want to read several stroller reviews before making my purchase. I'd check out Consumer Reports before purchasing a vehicle or even a vacuum cleaner, and I certainly would not to be less informed about purchasing frequently used items for my baby.

There are many ways to find stroller reviews: type that phrase into the appropriate box of your favorite search engine, ask friends for their recommendations, or browse through parenting magazines. I love the way the Internet puts this kind of information right at your fingertips. Just remember to check more than one source. A consistent review across multiple sites should be an indication that a product is pretty good.

After using my strollers for all three girls, I found that I prefer slim, lightweight strollers. However, when my two younger daughters were, well, younger, they both needed to ride in the stroller. That is when we found a double stroller. One child sits in front of the other, and I highly recommend this setup versus the side-by-side arrangement. The side-by-side stroller is too wide to easily maneuver through department stores aisles. So there you have my tip: buy a front-back double stroller instead of a side-by-side.

Do you have any stroller reviews of your own to share?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our Christmas Program Went Well

clipart courtesy of Fotosearch

I'm happy to report that the Christmas program went quite well. My Junior Choir (ages 4-12) sang their songs like old pros. In fact, out of the whole program, my choir and the adult choir were the only elements about which I never worried.

Pookie Bear held up wonderfully during the program but fell asleep on the pew during the preaching afterward and woke up crying and complaining of hunger. I guess her rechargeable batteries were in need of some fresh fuel. *laugh* Mr. Incredible took us to Mickey D's and bought the girls a hamburger Happy Meal to celebrate Pookie's great job and the fact that the two younger girls behaved well in church.

I'm relieved the program is over, and I am looking forward to this two weeks' break that my choir is taking. We won't sing again until the first Sunday in January, and we'll start out with a song we've sung before that they absolutely love. My goals for the upcoming year are to begin teaching them music theory and having them sing two parts instead of unison. They are a good group of kids, and I believe that they will do well with both challenges.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Christmas Rush

If you guessed by my sporadic posting that we are becoming immersed in Christmas activities, you would be absolutely correct. Tonight, Mr. Incredible and I went to our church's Christmas Banquet (and had a wonderful time), tomorrow, Pookie and I have to attend the morning Christmas program rehearsal, and Sunday night is the Christmas program. The following Sunday will begin the extended family celebrations.

The girls and I have started preparing goodies for the various Christmas get-togethers as well as our Christmas Day celebration. [We actually get to be at our own home for Christmas this year. Hurray! Growing up, my family always made a big deal out of Christmas (even though we never gave gifts), and now I wouldn't trade spending Christmas Day at home with my family for a stay in the most expensive Vegas hotel.] So far, we have made Truffle Trove Pie and Candy Cane cookies. Our dessert plans include making Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake, Rice Krispie Treats, and homemade ice cream for Christmas Day banana splits - Mr. Incredible's request. My Christmas Day menu includes BLT Breakfast Bake for breakfast, of course; a turkey roast (or two if we have Christmas Day guests), homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli Au Gratin, creamed corn, spinach, and dessert for lunch; Easy Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip and tortilla chips for an afternoon snack; and leftovers for supper. Don't you want to come to my house for Christmas? *laugh*

Our last Christmas bash will be my family's celebration on December 29. We are all so busy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that we have decided it is best to have our celebration after Christmas. It has worked out well for everyone and reduces the Christmas day stress. My mother is preparing the bulk of the meal, and we children are bringing a requested dish. My dish is my grandmother's delicious corn casserole. I'll have to post the recipe soon Here's the recipe; it's like no other corn casserole I've ever eaten.

What are your Christmas plans?

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Contests Are Fun!

I thought I'd share links to a couple of great contests/giveaways going on right now.

Grab this buttonLittle Fun; Little Learning Christmas Giveaway
Over at Little Fun; Little Learning, Karen is randomly posting giveaways during the month of December. Check often to see what is new. In addition to her giveaway posts, she is saving one special prize, a Gold Design Package (a $100 value) from yours truly of RS Designs, for a lucky newsletter subscriber. To be have a chance to win the design package, simply become a Little Fun; Little Learning subscriber no later than December 31. The subscription box is in her sidebar. You can't miss it; it says Subscribe to Our Newsletter.

Jackie of Adventures of a Twenty Something Mother is celebrating her new blog design with a week-long Grand Re-opening. So far, she is giving away a pair of Baby Legs (here's the product website), a code for 15% off a purchase of $20 from Danajill Designs, and a copy of the Complete Tightwad's Gazette. She will be putting up one more giveaway post after 7 p.m. EST today. Entry deadline for her contests is 5pm EST on December 15, 2007.

What are you waiting for? Hurry ... don't miss your chance to enter these contests!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Dishwasher Reviews, Too

When I told you about the refrigerator reviews, I forgot to mention that Wize.com also offers dishwasher reviews. Yes, I was surfing through those as well, but not for any particular reason. I was only looking that time. *smile* Although I saw some beautiful dishwashers, my dishwasher gives me no problems at all, and I really only use it when I get behind on dishes. I still wash most of my dishes by hand.

Why would I do such as thing? That's a very good question. I wash my dishes by hand for a couple of reasons:

  • this is the first dishwasher I have ever had, and I am simply used to washing dishes by hand.
  • we have a well, and I am more concerned about conserving electricity than water.
  • I am not positive, but I think that Mr. Incredible thinks that using the dishwasher is wasteful. (I know, I need to ask him if that is what he really thinks, especially since the dishwasher reviews I have seen show that many dishwashers are quite efficient.)
Do you have any dishwasher reviews of your own? Am I the only one who washes her dishes by hand even though I do own a dishwasher? What do you do, and why? (Karen, I know you use your dishwasher all the time. *smile* Maybe one day I will, too.)

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Refrigerator Woes

I know I just said that discontent is not welcome in my heart. I must say that the comments you left for that post were thoughtful and remarkable. Frank made a great point about desire often being the impetus to bettering our lot in life, Lizzie thoughtfully pointed out that all too often our discontent can spring from taking our eyes off our Provider, Karen (and Frank) suggested thinking of alternative ways to create more space, and Sho commiserated with my feelings. *smile*

I must say that my refrigerator woes (here's hoping they are really minor woes) are not a symptom of discontent. I have no burning, covetous desire for a new refrigerator - despite glowing refrigerator reviews contributed by friends who have recently acquired and new refrigerator. *grin* Here's my situation: the girls have already managed to partially break the bar the holds the condiments in place on the shelf in the door panel. Now, our door has started creaking quite loudly whenever we open it. It honestly sounds to me like the door wants to come of its hinges! I'm praying and hoping that the door stays where it belongs and that we do not end up needing to repair or replace the fridge.

However, it never hurts to prepare for a possible happening, right? I've been casually surfing the refrigerator reviews at Wize.com and other sites and am finding that refrigerators are not the cheapest appliance in the world, and I'm not even looking for anything fancy, not even an ice maker!

I know I need to try spraying some WD-40 on the hinges but have not thought of anything else to try. Do any of you have any suggestions regarding our refrigerator? (If you are in need a refrigerator yourself, check out the refrigerator reviews; I found them quite informative.)

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Car Donations Help Others

Did you know that you can be of help to someone in need simply by donating rather than selling your car? Car donations to Car Angel (a non-profit company) mean that not only do you get to help someone less fortunate than yourself, but you also get to claim a tax deduction for the donation, and Car Angel will remove the hassle of selling your car. You even get to select one of the many charities that partner with Car Angel to be the beneficiary of the proceeds generated by the donation of your vehicle.

In addition to supporting multiple charities, Car Angel also uses donation proceeds and other contributions to create videos geared toward children and teens, promoting wholesome, traditional values. It is said that, to date, well over 2 million videos have been produced and distributed. Here is an example of the videos that are created with donated cars and funds.



If you have a car that you have considered selling, why not think about donating it to Car Angel instead? You could help someone in need, and you wouldn't have to deal with selling the vehicle.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Discontent Is Not Welcome in My Heart

It amazes me how quickly I can become discontented with what was once my pride and joy. Take, for example, our home.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my home. However, with the new baby on the way, I've started thinking how nice it would be to have larger bedrooms and more closet space, and I have to admit to having picked up a couple of real estate magazines, browsing to get a feel for our area's market and current pricing.

Based upon those perusals, even with the wonderful equity our home has built in just two years (at the time of our refinancing it was appraised at nearly 1.5 times what we paid for it), we still can't realistically afford much more house than what we currently own. There are plenty of mobile homes and condos for sale in our price range, but I'm not interested in that kind of a residence. I prefer a single-family dwelling that is sturdy enough to provide shelter during hurricanes, thank you very much. *smile*

After deciding that we couldn't afford a new home anyway, I thought about my spirit of envy, greed, and discontent. I should be thankful for the home the Lord provided for us: it was the only decent home in our price range, we are not in a flood plain, our neighbors are wonderful, and it fits our needs perfectly. I'm mightily ashamed of myself for minimizing the blessing the Lord has given us in our house, and I wish to publicly say that I am grateful for my home - for the ceramic tile floors that are so much easier to keep clean than are linoleum floors, for the smooth top range for which I never would have asked, for the toy room that has become the perfect school/toy room combination, for the piano/computer room that is all mine, for the 1.5 baths that mean that baths are no longer interrupted by little girls who need to use the toilet, for three bedrooms that provides room for guests (for a little while longer, anyway).

The list really could go on for quite some time if I keep thinking about what I like about my house. I am resolved that instead of allowing discontent to creep into my heart, I'm going to make a point of keeping my eyes and heart open to see the reasons I have to be thankful.

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The Most Comfortable Shirt

photo courtesy of Clothing4all.com

I love when I get free things, particularly nice free things. Recently, www.Clothing4all.com offered me the chance to choose a free shirt for Mr. Incredible. He is rather picky when it comes to shirts, and I didn't see plain T-shirts, so I picked out the mock turtleneck in red instead.

I was very pleased with the turnaround time from when I placed my order to when we received the shirt. It was less than a week. Mr. Incredible didn't know anything about the shirt and was very surprised when it arrived.

He wasn't too sure about the mock turtleneck but went ahead and tried on the shirt anyway. After wearing the shirt, he still wasn't crazy about the neckline, but he said that it was one of the most comfortable shirts he had ever worn. Because of the comfort factor, he decided he would go ahead and keep the shirt. He has worn it several times since and has mentioned a few more times how comfortable it is. I'm glad he enjoys wearing it, and I certainly couldn't beat the price, either. *smile*

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Return of the PS2

Since Mr. Incredible so sweetly gave up his first chance to replace his PS2, I was determined that he would not have to wait long for the object of his desires. He gave me the vacuum cleaner on Monday, and he got his PS2 on Black Friday. It actually worked out better for him to wait that little bit of extra time. The store where he purchased the PS2 also gave a $30 gift card with the purchase, so he is going to get at least one free game out of the deal.

Mr. Incredible has enjoyed having his game console back, but he hasn't spent as much time playing games as I thought he would, which, actually, is a good thing. I'm even willing to play golf with him again. That actually is a pretty fun game. I think it's time to update my character's look, too. Hm, maybe Ogio gear would be a nice change. *smile*

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learn How to Customize Your Borders

I mentioned that Linda and I are writing Blogger tutorials over at RS Designs. I am happy to announce that my first tutorial is now live. If you would like to customize borders on your blog, read Blogspot 101 - Borders. Let me know what you think of it. It's my first tutorial, and I hope I didn't make it overwhelming.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review Blog Offers $40 Starbucks Gift Card

Chic Mama Reviews

I bet that title caught your attention! It's no joke, either. This is actually one of my recent clients. She and a friend just started Lookit! I Spy..., their review blog, and are offering you a chance to win a $40 Starbucks gift card just for helping them spread the word.
"Here are the rules. If you'd like a chance to win this $40 gift card to Starbucks, first leave a comment here on this post. Then either post a link to this contest OR proudly post our button somewhere on your blog (see sidebar for html code) and you will receive one entry into our first ever giveaways. Non–bloggers are welcome too, just make sure you comment letting us know how you are going to help spread the word to your friends. Make sure however that you leave us a valid email address to contact you if you win. Contest will close Sunday night and we will announce the winners on Monday morning."
It's easy to participate. Why not take a shot at winning that gift card yourself?

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Everyday Life

I'm very happy to report that nearly everyone is well again. Mr. Incredible still has some sinus problems, but everyone else seems to be fine - finally! On top of that good news, I've only had one brief bout of morning sickness and am feeling great so far. Yippee! (Yes, you read and understood that correctly. *grin*)

My mother and father picked up the girls yesterday and brought them back in time for church tonight. I enjoyed my peaceful house, but I must admit I did miss having the girls around. I got a lot of design work accomplished today, and I should have - I sat at my computer for nearly eight hours straight!

RS Designs' Happy Holidays specialSpeaking of design work, I thought you might be interested to learn that Linda and I are running a holiday special at RS Designs right now. We have created holiday themed headers and templates and are offering them at special holiday prices. I think we did a good job. *smile* You're welcome to let us know what you think of our efforts. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated.

We are also starting a series of tutorials telling you how to customize your Blogger blog. Planned tutorials include editing, adding, or deleting borders, changing your blog's colors to something other than the standard Blogger palate, customizing your comment link, and much more. We're not planning to put ourselves out of business, but we are willing to show you how to make changes to your blog on your own. I'm excited about this series. If you have any customization questions, leave me a comment, and, if I am able, I'll write a tutorial to answer your question.

Well, I guess that brings you up to date on my life. I need to get back to paying bills online, including the insurance bill I ended up with after receiving an excellent term life insurance quote. I'm happy to know that my family won't be put in a bind if I should die.

Actually, that's a rabbit trail I really don't have time to go down right now. Have a great night!

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Friday, November 23, 2007

This and That

This is just a quick post tonight. I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We really did, but about 5 miles away from home, Pookie Bear threw up all. *sigh* Another one bites the dust. She is finally doing better tonight. Only Baby Bear and Mr. Incredible have not come down with that particular bug yet, and Baby Bear may miss out because of the steroid shot she got for the croup she had. (Yes, it has been fun at our house lately.)

Question - do any of you have small children who take riding lessons? Mr. Incredible and I have discussed many activities we would like the girls to experience, and one is riding. All three girls enjoyed riding the horse at Sierra's birthday party, and there are plenty of stables around us. If your children do take riding lessons, what is the most appropriate horse riding apparel? T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers would be my guess, but I really have no clue. It would be great if it didn't require any special clothing.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Learning Resources

all photos in this post courtesy of Learning Resources

I love toys that also teach, and I recently came across a neat website devoted to educational toys. I couldn't help myself; I ended up getting three toys for the girls.

The first item we opened was the Sweet Heart Sayings for kids ages 2-5. All three of the girls were fascinated by these hearts and loved adding them to the laces. I really like the way the heart colors indicate what kind of word is on the heart: pronouns are blue,verbs are yellow, and nouns are purple. The pink and green hearts have pictures to illustrate the nouns. I think this will become a great tool for teaching the girls how to construct sentences later. Right now, this is a great way for them to exercise their motor skills.

After they had thoroughly examined the hearts, we opened the next game - the Jump and Jam Jungle for children ages 3-5. This interactive mat features 5 games that will help your child learn to follow directions, identify colors, shapes, animals, and their sounds. I must warn that the music can quickly become annoying, and musical toys don't often annoy me.

The last game we got was the Pretend and Play World Traveler for kids ages 5-7. Ironically, of the three games we got, this is all three girls' favorite. They love the camera and binoculars that is part of the set. They also love the play money, wallet, credit card, and pictures of sights from foreign lands. I plan to use this kit to teach geography and history to the girls this year, and I know we will all have a ton of fun using this toy.

If you are looking for educational toys, you should stop by Learning Resources. If nothing else, you will probably get new ideas for games to play with your child.

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Mr. Incredible Truly Is Incredible!

photo courtesy of fotosearch.com

I have so many different posts piled up in my head from the few short days I was without my computer. Thankfully, there appears to be nothing wrong with the computer, but the new monitor we purchased was broken. I'm glad our old one is actually working so we were able to return the new monitor for a refund instead of an exchange. Our best guess now is that our surge protector is wonky, so we've tried replacing that. So far so good, but out fingers are still crossed.

Back to those posts in my head. You'll be seeing several of them over the next couple of days. I hope I don't swamp you with such a deluge. Before I get to those, though, I simply must brag on Mr. Incredible.

You all know how badly Mr. Incredible has wanted to replace his broken PlayStation2. We finally had enough "extra" money for him to do so, and last night he went to buy it. When he came home, I was cooking dinner. He brought his package into the living room where the girls clamored to see it. Without turning around, I emphasized that this was Daddy's and that they would be in big trouble if they touched it.

Mr. Incredible mentioned something about Wal-Mart not having it in stock, which puzzled me so I turned around to ask him about that statement. When I did, I was shocked to see this. I never expected that, though I had told him months ago that I really wanted it.

My first thought was that he had bought the vacuum cleaner in addition to his PlayStation2, but I didn't see the game system anywhere. He informed me that he had purchased the vacuum cleaner for me instead of buying himself that PS2. Wow! That literally made me cry. Getting me something that I really wanted instead of what he wanted - that spoke volumes to me.
  1. He actually listened when I said I wanted that vacuum cleaner.
  2. He thought of me.
  3. He cares enough about me to sacrifice his desires to make me happy.
Life couldn't be sweeter right now. Oh, and I have told him that he will be getting his PS2 very soon. :)

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Pensieve's Poetic License

Mid-month Every Month at PENSIEVE
Want this button?

I like to write little ditties occasionally, so when my friend Robin announced that she was starting a monthly poetry meme, I was intrigued. The rules are simple - there are no rules. Though Robin does pick a poetry form and theme for each month, she states that participants are not obligated to use that suggestion.

I decided to participate in this month's assignment: a Thanksgiving limerick. Here's my attempt. Be kind. *smile*

Thanksgiving Woes

Desserts are what everyones bakes -
Their very best pies and cakes.
Now this is good living;
You see, it's Thanksgiving.
Our tummies surely will ache!

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Featured Friday

This was supposed to have been published last Friday. Due to my computer being in the shop, that didn't happen, but I think you might find this interesting anyway.

Featured Friday button


Over at RS Designs, Linda and I have created Featured Friday. The purpose of this meme is for people to share their recommendations: websites, products, tips, tools - anything clean and family-friendly is fair game. I decided to play along here at the Porch Light this week.

Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving, and traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year here in the U.S. of A.) will be here in only one short week. I recently found BlackFridayAds.com, a resource for viewing the different advertised sales so that you can make sure you are getting the best deal on your Christmas gifts. Tuesday's listings included Radio Shack, Kmart, and Meijer. New ads are posted daily, so make sure you stop by often to see what is offered.

Don't forget to stop by RS Designs to see other participants' recommendations or to leave a link to yours.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Banking Online

I like the bank of which we are currently customers. I have been with other banks that I have not liked, but our bank consistently provides good services at competitive rates with few fees. One feature I particularly like is online banking - it is much more convenient to pay bills and check your balance from home than to have to go to your bank to perform those same functions.

I sometimes look at online banks to see how my bank compares. One online bank, WaMu, seems to have great products: their free checking account offer free ATM withdrawals, free checks for the life of your account (only one style qualifies), a Gold debit Master Card, one overdraft/ nonsufficient funds fee refund per year, $0 monthly fee (it is a free checking account, after all), and only requires $1 to open the account. (I didn't list everything included with this account; follow the link for the complete list of features.)

Though I do like WaMu's products, I believe I will stick with my bank for a while longer.

Do you bank online? Why or why not?

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I May Not Be Around Very Much for a Little While

I tell you what - this week has been something else. First, the van is in the shop, then Baby Bear comes down with croup, then I have computer problems (which, by the way, are not merely monitor problems as we had thought; in fact, the computer is in the shop, and I am typing this entry at a relative's house), then our microwave died last night. Whew! It has been one exciting week!

Baby Bear is doing better, we were loaned a microwave until we are given one for Christmas, and the van is out of the shop (though they never did find the reason for the problem we were encountering). I'm very thankful for that. But I don't know when I will get my computer back, though the repair guy said it might be ready Monday, depending on how serious of a problem it is. Well, I guess thrr out of four problems solved isn't too bad.

On a different note, I am happy to report that we are finally going to be able to replace the PlayStation2 system that the girls broke. Now Mr. Incredible is talking about wanting an xbox 360, but at least he does acknowledge that he won't be getting that any time soon. *smile*

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catching Up

I promised to catch you up on my life during the more-than-a-week I did not post.

Wednesday was Mr. Incredible's birthday. I made him the angel food cake he requested. He was very surprised to receive the 57 Chevy #8 car. (I'm happy; the girls and I had to take a 3 hour round trip to get it on Tuesday!). I also spent most of the afternoon attempting to clean up after a fiasco with Baby Bear and acrylic paint. That's not a very fun story, and it was my fault. *sigh*

Pookie Bear had asked to paint after breakfast, and I let her. Once she finished up, I cleaned up and put the paints away where I thought Baby Bear could not get them. Apparently I was wrong. She got into the bottle of black paint; when I found her, it was all over her (thank goodness she was clad in only a diaper!), the table, two chairs, and the dining room ceramic tile floor. It could have been worse.

Oh, wait! It did get worse! While I was scrubbing Baby Bear in the tub, Pookie attempted to help me by cleaning up, and Miss Muffet decided to do a little painting of her own. When I came out of the bathroom, both the couch and the recliner had black paint on their armrests, and one of the couch cushions had black paint on the edge. Not only that, but there were two paint-covered towels on the living room carpet (Pookie's unsuccessful attempts at cleanup) and black paint drops down the hall - not sure who left those for me. Ugh!

I'm glad Mr. Incredible had a good day; I sure didn't!

Thursday was fun. Mr. Incredible found out that the Budweiser Clydesdales were in town for a show and were being stabled about two minutes from our house. Since the public was welcome to see the horses free of charge, he took the girls and me with him to see the horses during his lunch break. We all enjoyed that. (I'll share pictures later.)

On Friday, I found out that the good news I had hinted at before was now official: a little thing called MyBlogLog is running a contest which offers a Grand Prize worth approximately $2,600. That is great news for me because part of that Grand Prize package is a complete blog redesign by none other than yours truly of RS Designs! I didn't offer this on my own - I was asked to be a sponsor. Wow! That made me quite happy.

Saturday was fun; we went to a t3rd birthday party for one of my nieces. The theme was Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and they had a horse for all the kids to ride. My girls absolutely loved that. (You'll see those pictures soon, too.) After the party, we went to Mr. Incredible's grandparents' place to help out and enjoy barbecued baby back ribs and shrimp. Yum! On the way home, though, our van nearly quit on us and is in the shop as I write. Ugh!

Yesterday, our computer monitor quit. Mr. Incredible kindly brought home another one for me. He said he knew I'd be going crazy if I couldn't work on my computer!

So how have you been while I have been absent?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Not All About Me

clip art courtesy of fotosearch.com

I've been absent from this blog for way too long - my apologies! I'll fill you in on my exciting life shortly; I do have several good things to share. Hurray for good news!

Thanksgiving is almost here. I love this holiday and think it should be at least as celebrated as Christmas. After all, it is the holiday we set aside to thank God for His goodness and the blessings He has bestowed upon us.

Sadly, commercial elements prefer to skip over Thanksgiving with as little notice as possible. Giving thanks is not as marketable as is giving gifts; consequently, it seems as though every year finds less time passing between Halloween and the appearance of Christmas items. In fact, our Wal-Mart didn't even wait for Halloween to pass this year before putting up their Christmas displays.

I mentioned the marketing aspect of giving gifts, but that actually was slightly incorrect. Retailers are not as interested in marketing for the giving of gifts as they are for the receiving of gifts. Ads, whether television, radio, or print, cater to the greed that lurks within every human soul.

I find it especially annoying when children are targeted by greed-inducing ads. This past week, we received a mailer from a retailer which shall remain nameless. The mini catalog was geared toward children and was designed so that they could create a Wish List based upon the items in that catalog. Girls were offered toys such as Barbies sporting gemstone jewelry, and boys were tantalized by Nintendo Wii's and many other toys. The whole catalog was designed so that the children would focus on the toys that they just "had" to have.

Our society is already focused on self; we don't need our children bombarded and influenced by these materialistic marketing campaigns. I am working on teaching my children that Christmas is not about "me" but is instead the celebration of the greatest gift that mankind has ever received: Jesus.

I know you all have great ideas. How do you teach your children that Christmas (and life) is not "all about me"?

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wholesale Fashion Jewelry Source

clip art courtesy of fotosearch.com

If you love fashion jewelry or have several ladies on your Christmas list who do, you might want to take a look at D's Keepsakes. They offer a wide variety of wholesale fashion jewelry at low prices.

You must create a free account in order to make purchases, but it appears that is all that is required to be able to place an order. They do have a minimum purchase requirement of $100 (before shipping and handling) but also state that orders that do not meet that requirement will assessed a $5 handling charge, which indicates to me that you can place smaller orders; you will just be penalized $5 for doing so.

Go ahead; stop by their site. I saw some very nice pieces at very reasonable prices.

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Why I Don't Drink

clipart courtesy of fotosearch.com

I don't like alcohol. Actually, I guess that's not a true statement. I don't think I like alcohol. I have to say think because I have never tasted an alcoholic beverage (nor smoked a cigarette nor taken any illegal substances), and I have no intention of ever consuming any amount of an alcoholic beverage, either. (Does cough medicine count as an alcoholic beverage? *smile*) I do know that I do not like the potential effects of alcohol consumption.

From my observations, alcohol appears to be a seductive siren, luring the unwary into succumbing to her advertised charms. On the one hand, if you don't drink, you could be labeled a goody-goody, or people might think you are rude for not joining them in drinking "just one." On the other, "everyone's" drinking, it seems like fun, and the advertisements portray those who do drink as intelligent, witty, and the life of the proverbial party. Who wouldn't want a part of that?

Unfortunately, those slick advertisements don't show you what may await at the end of what is all too often a slippery slope: the man who spends on alcohol every penny he can find, not caring that the money he is spending in a vain attempt to quench his unquenchable thirst is needed to pay bills or buy clothes and food; the college coed whose judgment is impaired by having one too many and ends up being easy prey for an uncaring (or worse) male; the person who ends up killing another person because he decided to drive after drinking; the homeless person who lost everything because of his alcoholism - the scenarios are nearly unending, and none of them are pretty.

You see, alcohol doesn't care about your wealth or social status. For every celebrity who makes the news for entering (yet again) into rehab, there are many others quietly entering alcohol rehabs in an attempt to break their bondage to the fiery drink. There are many paths to alcohol abuse/addiction: the poor drink to forget their poverty, the rich drink because society "demands" it, the sorrowful drink to drown their sorrows, and the happy drink to celebrate their happiness. Yet drinking can be compared to playing Russian roulette: you never know which drink will be the one when you became a drunkard.

No, thank you. I'm not taking chances. If I don't take that first drink, I will never become an alcoholic. Your life is yours to live, and I am not telling you how to live it. May I, however, kindly advise that you avoid even the beginning of the path that could lead to your destruction?

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Happy Birthday, Pookie Bear!

Pookie's fifth birthday has finally arrived!!! She has only been talking about it at least once a day for nine months now, and that's not an exaggeration. I'm happy to say that her day appears to have been a great one.

I let her choose her party's theme. After talking about wanting a princess, dinosaur, and Barbie party (not all together), she finally chose a pumpkin party. I was rather doubtful about that theme but did convince her that pumpkins and scarecrows together would be cute. It actually worked out wonderfully - her birthday falls at the perfect time for a pumpkin party - and made a cute theme with which she was delighted. The adorable little guy to the right was the table center piece. You can't tell very well from the picture, but he's sitting on a bale of "hay."


Out of the family and friends we invited, only four people were missing. Pookie and the kids had a great time playing outside. They even ate outside, which meant that the adults got to eat at the table this year instead of having to eat in the living room or wherever else they could find a seat.

Here's Pookie's pumpkin cake. I was quite happy with how it turned out, and so was she, which is the more important opinion anyway. *smile* She was so happy to have that number five candle on her cake.

She was given some really neat gifts. We gave her a Disney Princess art pack and a Princess bicycle helmet set that she has wanted for almost a year. She also received a disposable camera and scrapbooking supplies, a pet salon Play-Doh set, flower stationery, a Disney Princess wristwatch, and a set of gel pens of which her favorite was the pink pen. She also received plenty of money, which we will deposit into the interest bearing checking account she shares with her sisters. I'm sure I've forgotten something she received. If the giver(s) happen(s) to read this post, please forgive me! I assure you no slight was intended.

After opening presents, it was time for us to sing to a very happy girl and watch her blow out her candle. Everyone seemed to enjoy the Birthday Cake flavored ice cream we had. Soon after the cake and ice cream, our guests slowly started leaving. We appreciated each and every person who came to share Pookie's special day.

Pookie is a dear girl, and we all love her very much. Our family is blessed to have such a sweet and caring oldest child. She takes her role of big sister seriously and does her best to be a good helper to me, often doing more than I would ask or expect her to do.

Happy birthday, Baby! We pray that you have many more.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Search Engine Optimization


image courtesy of fotosearch.com

I think every blogger and every website fights this battle - at least for a while. Here's a common scenario: you start a blog, install a stat counter to keep track of the amount of traffic you are receiving, and wait for the visitors to start dropping by your little piece of Internet real estate. Time goes by, and your stats show that you are receiving very few visits. You wonder what is wrong and how you can fix the problem.

There are a few simple steps you can take to help bring traffic to you site:
  • visit blogs and leave relevant (not spam!) comments on posts that interest you. Be sure you leave a link to your site, preferably in the field named URL or Website.
  • participate in a contest such as the Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway.
  • ask to exchange links with a site you like or one that targets an audience similar to yours.
  • load your site with great content and optimize your pages/posts for search engines.
The last tip is what I would like to explore in this post. Good ways to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) include:
  • making a keyword bold the first time it appears on the page or in your post
  • deep linking - link to other pages or posts on your site
  • write articles for ezines - they generally allow you to link to your site in your profile at the end of the article
  • make your titles into links and write titles that are concise yet detail what your readers can expect to find in the content following the title
  • have a navigation bar (for small sites) or a site map (for large sites)
  • offer solid content, not fluff, using keywords and phrases but taking care that you do not use so many they overshadow your content
If you feel that you need SEO help, there are companies and consultants eager to assist you. This SEO Company is a great example. They have done the research necessary to know exactly how to maximize SEO for your site.

For example, they offer a list linking to deep link directories that "offer the most links to your site per Web Directory submission." You can either do these submissions yourself, or they have a web directory submission service where they will submit your site for you.

Another feature of this site is a list linking to SEO tools that will help you attain higher search engine ranking.

Many SEO companies also offer free resources. Our example site offers a SEO blog where you can find the latest SEO news and also has a Podcasting blog featuring tips on creating a quality podcast.

Whatever road you take, whether you conduct your own research and find your way through trial-and-error or whether you choose to place your trust in a professional, you can improve your site's search engine visibility and, in turn, see more traffic coming to your site.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

10-20-30 Meme

MIntheGap of MIntheGap and Weekend Kindness has chosen me to complete the interesting 10-20-30 meme created by author Mary DeMuth whom you can find at Relevant blog. He wants to know what I was doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago.

10 years ago I was twenty years old. I was studying Music Education at Pensacola Christian College (I never did put in the practice that I should have!), enjoying being engaged (to the man I didn't marry), and planning my wedding (the one that never happened). I worked as a proof reader and as one of the college switchboard operators. I lived in town that year and enjoyed the freedom of not living in the dorms "residence halls." That was also the year that the College Choir, of which I was a part, had the opportunity to be recorded as back up for a gorgeous song, "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name" by Tom Fettke, sung by Ray and Ann Gibbs. I cannot describe how it felt to be in the recording studio, knowing I was part of something that would be absolutely beautiful.

20 years ago I was ten years old. My mom was in the early stages of being pregnant with my little sister - Sarah and I are almost eleven years apart. I was having fun being a tomboy and a bookworm. I had the same teacher for fifth grade that I had in second grade. I didn't know that I was attending my last year at VCS, the school I had attended since starting school in 2nd grade at age seven. This was the year my friend Michelle and I sang a duet for the school's gong show. We were gonged, which did hurt my feelings. *smile*

30 years ago I was one month old - my days were probably filled with eating, sleeping, and dirtying my diaper. I obviously don't remember anything from that year.

I'd like to know what the following bloggers were doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago: Karen, Linda, Heather, Robyn, and Lani. As always, if you don't have the time, please don't worry about it. *smile*

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Bloggy Giveaway - updated 10/30/07

Just so you know, Rocks in My Dryer has her Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway going on. More than 200 bloggers are already participating, and the Mr. Linky only went live this morning!

Over at RS Designs, both Linda and I will be participating. I'm giving away a blog design package valued at $100. Linda's post is not up yet, but when it is, I'll provide a link to her giveaway as well. Linda is giving away two design packages worth $60 each. We will announce our winners on November 4, so if you want to enter for a chance to win, make sure you do so no later than November 3.

Visit Rocks in My Dryer to surf all the great giveaways going on this week.

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Tag: Magical Flying Carpet Ride

Awhile back, Frank slapped me with this fun tag. *smile* Here's my story (it's more than a paragraph):

I was groggily stumbling down the dark hall when I stumbled over something. What could it be? There was nothing on the floor when I went to bed; I had made sure to pick up the house before retiring for the night. I felt around and picked up something metallic. As my fingers wrapped around it, two lights, one pink and one blue, appeared. In the lights were two semi-transparent ... people? What on earth?!

"We are the Genie King and the Genie Princess. We are here to grant you one wish. However, there are a two stipulations you must take into account when making your wish:

  1. we cannot take away anyone's free will.
  2. there are some wishes that even a genie cannot grant."
Utterly perplexed, I stammered out the first thought that popped into my head, "I wish that everyone on Earth would accept Christ as Savior!"

"I'm sorry, but that would take away their free will. We cannot grant that request. Make another wish, please," the Genie Princess replied.

"Um, I wish I were a highly disciplined individual."

"I'm sorry, but discipline only comes with self-denial; there are no short cuts. You aren't very good at this, are you? Try again," the Genie King's voice was kind and rather amused.

"Well, I reckon money is a safe wish. I wish that my family had enough money to be comfortable but not so much that we are corrupted by the love of money."

"Your wish is granted."

Both the genies and the lamp disappeared, leaving me to wonder if the whole thing had been a dream. I stumbled back to bed, my reason for getting up completely forgotten. I would figure it all out in the morning.

Rules:
1. Write a short paragraph about your visit by the two Genies and include a link to the blog that passed on the Genie Symbol to you.
2. COPY the Rules and ENTIRE List below and post it on your blog.
3. List down your wish.
4. Place your name below the last name on the list and pass on the Genie Symbol to at least 5 other bloggers.
5. Please put up either one (or both) of the Symbols of the Genies on your blog to show that the Genies have visited your blog:

Genie PrincessGenie King

Genie Princess Genie King

The Genie King and the Genie Princess have visited:

Mariuca would like to wish for happiness and success.
Adrian would like to wish for good health and happiness.
Emila would like to wish for happiness and success.
Trinity would like to wish good health for Jan’s brother and Yah and Wan and success
MPG would like to wish for love and peace
Jean would like to wish for stress free work environment and happiness
Cbenc12 would like to wish for health, happiness and luck for my family and friends and me too!
Paris Beaverbanks would like to wish for more publicity! Hooyah! (taps swollen head)
Giddy Tiger would like to wish for longer weekends and never-ending holidays!
Shooi would like to wish for peace on earth, love, good health and happiness.
Chinnee would like to wish for happiness and good health forever!
Hui Sia would like to wish for love, health, wealth and happiness.
Chew Lee would like to wish hubby for a successful business venture in Singapore.
Anggie would like to wish for dream and wish come true.
Revka wishes for enough money to be comfortable but not so much as to be corrupted by the love of money.

Welcome aboard the Magical Flying Carpet for the Ride of your Life!

Alakazam!

I will tag Linda, Tanyetta, MaryAnne, Robin, and Jen.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Freebie Fridays

My friend Karen is most well known for blogging at Thrifty Mommy; however, she also blogs at Little Fun; Little Learning, A Healthy Balance, and Celebrity Pictures and News. Whew! I'm tired just typing all that! (Never mind the fact that I attempted to write for four blogs at once myself.)

Karen has had a great idea; she has created Freebie Fridays, a meme devoted to, well, free stuff - of course! *laugh* As if it weren't good enough that she is doing this herself, she is inviting everyone to share their freebie finds and is providing a Mr. Linky at her post so that we can easily find all the free goodies.

Since I love to try new snacks, I searched for free snack samples and found an offer for a free sample of your choice of two Simple Nutrilite bars: Chocolate Crisp or Cherry Almond. They both sound yummy. I think I'll have to try the chocolate bar.

Visit Freebie Fridays at A Healthy Balance to see what other freebies have been posted.

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Time to Buy a Home?

clip art courtesy of fotosearch.com

If you've been thinking about taking the plunge and buying a home, this just might be your opportunity. In many areas of the country, such as the Scottsdale real estate market, there are more houses available than there are buyers, making this a buyer's market where sellers, desperate to sell their homes, are willing to make concessions they would not consider in a seller's market.

The recently lowered interest rates are also enticing to potential buyers, but lenders have tightened their guidelines in an attempt to cut down on their risk of customers defaulting on their loans, making it more difficult for wannabe buyers to qualify for a loan.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, here are some steps you should take now:
  • look at your credit report to see what is in it so that you can correct any mistakes before going to a lender.
  • determine what you can realistically afford to pay each month. (Don't forget that figure should include a monthly escrow for taxes and insurance.) The bank may be willing to loan you more money than you feel you can afford. Don't accept the extra money; living within your means is one way to avoid financial difficulties, which could include foreclosure.
  • determine how much you can put down on a house. There are programs to help first-time home buyers acquire a home using very little of their own money, but there are normally extra fees attached which will raise the monthly payment.
  • research the different mortgage types available: ARM, fixed, no interest, balloon.
Homeowner is an exciting status to achieve, but be smart and don't create trouble for you and your family.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Recommend Spot Shot Carpet Cleaner!

You want to know why? Read this post, detailing Baby Bear's misadventure yesterday. I bet plenty of you have been in the same boat.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yes, I've Lived Under a Rock

I know practically nothing about Van Halen. I have heard the name and assume that they are some kind of rock band? (I guess I could Google the name to find out more.) I have a sneaking suspicion that many people know about this group and would love to have Van Halen tickets.

Once upon a time I listened to pop rock, country, and similar genres, but this is completely out of my experience. I actually prefer to listen to old-time Christian music now - hymns and other such songs. I find that kind of music very uplifting and soothing.

What kind of music/which artists do you enjoy and why?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Addictive Occupation

I love my design work. I love it so much it doesn't even feel like work. On the contrary, many times, it feels as though I am assembling an intricate jigsaw puzzle. How big should the header be? Does the navbar look better above or underneath the header? One sidebar or two? What design best fits this site's purpose and personality?

I enjoy this kind of puzzle. In fact, I would have to say I'm a bit addicted to blog design. Which, in light of the fact that my business is designing blogs, is a very good thing. I know that when you do what you love, you can actually look forward to working, and when you enjoy your work, you will usually do well at it.

Sadly, many, if not most, people trudge through life tied to a job that, at best, they dislike. Having been on that side of the fence as well, I highly recommend finding a job doing something you enjoy doing.

Do you have a hobby that you find addictive? Have you ever considered turning it into a business?

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Accessories for a Chrysler 300

I don't know about you guys, but the Chrysler 300 isn't exactly my kind of car - too cool, I guess. *smile* But if you happen to own one and are interested in upgrading its accessories, you really need to take a look at Wood Dash Experts, Inc. They offer just about any Chrysler 300 accessory I could imagine - everything from dash kits to grills to rims ... you get the picture.

Like I said, the Chrysler 300 doesn't quite fit my taste. I've been in love with the 1969 Corvette, preferably in white, for over a decade. I told Mr. Incredible that is certainly my dream car because that is the only place I will ever own one. *laugh*

Do you have a dream car?

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Good Memories

We had a busy time of it yesterday. We spent all day away from home helping my mom and sister move to a new house. It was a lot of work, but it was also nice because all of my siblings, except for the one in Texas, were able to be there with their families, and we had a lot of fun together while working. At the end of the day, the guys grilled out on the grill at the new home, and we all got to relax and enjoy having most of the family together.

On the way home, Mr. Incredible and I reminisced about our memories from when we were dating and engaged. I really don't remember a whole lot about those times. That sounds rather odd, but that's just the way my memory works. Certain things stand out, but there were many memories that Mr. Incredible referenced that I simply could not recall.

I did, however, enjoy revisiting the past. Talking together called to mind events and things that are forever tied to tender feelings. I will never forget our first date, which got rained out. Instead of playing tennis, we walked around the mall talking for a couple of hours - much better for building a relationship than playing tennis would have been. I also remember how significant the pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings my parents bought me to wear at my wedding seemed. All brides must have pearls, you know, and those pearls meant that I was really getting married!

I cherish the memories Mr. Incredible and I have built and continue to build together. Although there are painful memories, most of our memories are filled with warmth, love, and laughter. I pray it will always be so.

What are some of your favorite memories?

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Update and a Question for the Guys

Wow! Time has slipped by in a hurry this week! Since I didn't have any assignments pending and had two big design projects to complete, this blog kind of fell by the wayside.

Big things have happened over at RS Designs this week. After designing for everyone else, I finally created a custom design for my own site. I think it is beautiful with a sense of understated sophistication, rather like a well-bred lady. (How's that for a descriptive simile? *smile*)

Not only have I redesigned the site, but I have also streamlined the pages so that navigation is much more user-friendly, and I have added three design packages in addition to the A la Carte menu previously featured. (Here's a tip: if you think you may ever want a custom design, subscribe to the newsletter - the form is in the sidebar - because I offer big subscriber-only discounts from time to time, and subscribers will be the first to know of upcoming contests or new products. I just sent out a great package discount offer to my subscribers today.)

There is one more piece of news that I would absolutely love to share with you, and as soon as I can, I will. Trust me when I say this is big news for RS Designs!

As you know, I am now creating pre-made templates to sell. I plan to offer designs for men as well as for women. I've thought of creating a golf themed template featuring Nike golf clubs, a NASCAR themed template, a business-like template with a thin striped background, a patriotic design, and a few other masculine-seeming designs.

Here's my question for you gentlemen (though you ladies are welcome to offer your input as well). What would appeal to you guys? Do any of those ideas sound good? What would you like to see in a blog design?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Basket Site Grand Opening

If you like baskets, you might like to browse Kathy Johnson's Longaberger site. Not only does she have lovely baskets, but she also sells other decorative items, many of which are perfect for Christmas. She told me that her grand opening is today, and I thought some of you might be interested in viewing her wares.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

One Year of Blogging

Break out the party hats and noise makers! I'm celebrating one year of blogging here at The Porch Light. I published my first post on October 14, 2006, and haven't stopped since.

I have written a lot in one year - this post is #466 if the post management area calculated correctly. That's a lot of posts! I am thankful for each one of you that stops by and takes the time to read what I write. I have enjoyed getting to know some of my most frequent commenters and treasure the friendships that have been developed.

Do any of you have suggestions for the direction this blog takes in the following year? Do my paid assignments detract from the blog? Are there any particular types of posts you would like to see more? Please leave me any suggestions you have to offer.

Here are a few some of my favorite posts from this year:


October, 2006:

November, 2006:

December, 2006:
January, 2007:
February, 2007:
March, 2007
April, 2007:
May, 2007:
June, 2007:
July, 2007:
August, 2007:
September, 2007:
October, 2007:
Some of my favorite categories are Quotes, Photos, and Frugal Tips.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Analog(y)

photo courtesy of fotosearch.com

I'd like to share an analogy that occurred to me recently.

We all know that whether a watch is a Jaeger LeCoultre or a Wal-Mart special, it serves one primary purpose - to tell time. We Christians are like that watch: no matter what our outward appearance or our social standing may be, our lives serve one primary purpose - to glorify God.

When a watch battery is depleted, the watch can no longer keep accurate time. Likewise, when our spiritual stores are depleted, chances are good that we will more often sin and fail to glorify God. The good news is that, unlike a disposable battery, such as a watch battery, our spiritual battery is rechargeable. However, the only way to recharge that battery is to connect with the Source of our power (God) by reading His Word and talking to Him in prayer.

Too often, I fail to recognize just how imperative it is that I take the time each day to recharge and instead allow other activities to crowd out my time of spiritual refreshment. When that happens, I inevitably become spiritually weak and am easy prey for temptations that come my way. I no longer consistently fulfill my purpose of glorifying God. It is only when I resume regular quiet times with God that I once again have the power to resist temptation.

Are you finding yourself more often succumbing to temptation? Perhaps your spiritual battery, too, is in need of recharging. If that is the case, the good news is that you don't have to wait to reconnect with God. He is always available and is always eager to fellowship with His children. Take time now to return to the Source of your strength.

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When Grandparents Visit



This is what it looks like when little girls play outside with Grandma. *smile* (Actually, she fell and landed on her face, but that wasn't Grandma's fault.)






This is what a little girl looks like when her grandparents have to leave. I don't know if the lighting will allow you to see the one tear in each eye.


When I was growing up, my one living grandmother was in the northern U.S. while we lived in the extreme south. We didn't see her often, and I never felt really close to her. I think grandparents are one of God's blessings to the younger generation. I'm glad we live close enough for our girls to know their grandparents.

How well did you get to know your grandparents?

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pastel de Tres Leches

Our church had its Homecoming recently, and one of my friends brought this Pastel de Tres Leches - Three Milk Cake, a milk-soaked sponge cake. It was absolutely delicious! I asked for the recipe, and Argentina invited me to come to her house to watch her make it. She is Guatemalan, her English is limited, and her recipe is in Spanish, so she thought it would be easier for both of us if I actually saw how it was made. Yesterday, I took her up on her offer, and we had a lot of fun. I wrote down the recipe and asked her permission to post it. She said it was fine, so I am sharing this delicious dessert with you.

Pastel de Tres Leches
Cake

13 eggs (room temperature), separated
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. flour


Milk Syrup

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup grape juice or 1/2 cup milk


Toppings (your choice)
Cool whip or real whipped cream
Cocoa powder
Fresh fruit - peaches, strawberries, etc.
Maraschino cherries
Coconut
Nuts

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch baking dish.
  • Separate eggs. Place egg whites in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla
  • In a small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the yolk mixture and the flour mixture into the egg whites until blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Combine the Milk Syrup ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  • Once cake is cool, use a knife or fork to poke several holes in the top, taking care not to tear the cake. Slowly pour the milk syrup over the cake, pausing as needed to let the cake absorb the liquid.
  • For best results, let cake sit in refrigerator overnight.
  • Before serving, spread whipped cream or Cool Whip over the top. Add additional toppings as desired. I put coconut and maraschino cherries on my cake.
Note: to make real whipped cream, beat a small container of heavy whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add confectioner's sugar to taste (usually 2-3 Tbsp.).

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