Monday, April 30, 2012

Small changes, big pay offs

Silly post, but felt like sharing.

For all of my adult life I have stuffed my washing machine too full.  I knew that I probably shouldn't be doing this, but my clothes seemed clean enough and it made for fewer loads which meant more time for me or tending to children.  No wonder I have always had trouble getting stains out of clothing.  They never had much room in the machine to get cleaned thoroughly.  (Although I still contend tomato based stains and chocolate are IMPOSSIBLE to get out no matter how you wash it)

Also, I have gotten into a bad habit of waiting to put laundry away until the day after I wash it.  Sometimes that one day would turn into 2, 3 or 4 days.  I rationalized that I had worked hard and it could do it later, but then later would come and the only time I could do it was nap time.  This never worked because all the rooms I needed to put clothes away in were in rooms where there were nappers.  I got tired of looking at it.  I got tired of  working around it.  And I got tired of how lazy it made me feel not getting it done.   I'm one of those people who feels better when her house is all put together at the end of the night before I go to bed. 

So....a couple weeks back I decided to do laundry right.  I made sure to only fill my machine three quarters full.  This of course created a lot more loads and it takes me an ENTIRE day to get it all washed, but the clothes are coming out cleaner.  If I only have 1/2 a load or 1/4 a load left at that end I go ahead and wash.  Not the most energy efficient way of  doing things and I am usually very conscience of being green, but that one little load could mean I have to wash again within a week.  No thanks!  Doing ALL of the laundry once a week is much better and takes a lot of stress off of me.  I'll worry about being green when I my girls are older and can help with their own laundry.  I do make my own detergent.  Is that considered green? 

Also, I make sure to get all the laundry put away before the girls get to bed at night.  I'm usually tired and would rather be doing anything else, but it has made such a difference!  I no longer have to stare at a pile of clothes and dread putting it away.  I know it doesn't necessarily mean I have more time, but it feels that way because I don't have to do any laundry for another 6 days.  Not knowing you have a chore to do because you already did it just feels good.

So these little changes have made a big difference. Laundry is no longer something I dread.  Put the petal to the metal.  Get it done, do it right, and move on. 

Friday, April 27, 2012


I have been watching toddlers for so long now that I am constantly on trouble patrol.  In other words, I always close doors, pick up specs off the floor, block off the shoe rack, block off the entertainment center, sweep crumbs off the floor constantly, be on the lookout for small toys that migrate out into the toddler area, etc. 

Last Christmas we got the girls Doodle Bears.  It was their Santa gift.  Kadyn REALLY wanted one.  I had enough sense at that time to put the markers away so they could only use them supervised.  The problem soon became that they were never used because it was out of sight out of mind.  What good is a Doodle Bear if you don't ever doodle on it?  I thought to myself that I need to let go of control and trust my kids more.  After all, I had an entire room blocked off just for the older kids.  They were old enough to understand me when I say, "Do not draw on anything except those bears."  SO.....I made the markers available to the big kids in their own room.  

The first couple weeks they used the Doodle Bears quite a bit and there were no accidents.  I began to think, "Hey this trusting thing makes me feel good.  Like I'm not this huge control freak."  Then it happened.  Yesterday I was cooking and I heard my big guy say, "Look, Kole has it all over his legs."  I knew I was about to enter panic mode.  I was right.  I stepped into the living room and saw little man with his legs, hands, and face covered.  Little gal was sucking on a marker, and there was green and pink marker all over my carpet by the couch and swipe on the couch itself.  I didn't yell because I'm not a yeller, but I did go quickly into lecture forever mode.  If there is one weakness I have in parenting it's lecturing too much.  I have trouble using few words to get my point across.  I have this incessant desire to talk to kids until I'm blue in the face.  Both my girls are talkers.  I wonder why? ;)

Anyhow, it was a very stressful lunch hour and I learned that I should've stuck to my total control freak mode when it comes to markers and kids under the age of 5.  Granted, the preschoolers didn't do any of the damage, but they allowed the little guys to opportunity to get those markers.  I'm very thankful that those markers were highly washable.  I was able to get it off my carpet, couch, and most of the the faces.  Hands and feet weren't so lucky. Thankfully, the parents thought it was a funny story and were forgiving of the colorful kids I sent home.

In other news, I have full permission to take the kids out and about.  YAY!  Now all I need is to get one more car seat, fit the kids, and we can get out of this joint.  I CAN'T WAIT!

Ironically, it appears I may get out in my own neighborhood too without having to drive anywhere.  I was talking to the Lord about my desire for more friends. It is so very hard to make friends when you can't leave your home. It's been a lonely 6 years. That afternoon, the daycare kids left early.  All of them. This is a rare occurrence.  Since I wasn't tied down with 4 kids, I decided I'd walk up the hill to pick up K with my little Bren instead of driving.  On my way up, a neighbor stopped me and asked if I'd be interesting in getting our kids together this summer for fun. She mentioned there were other mothers on our block who would joining in on the fun.  OF COURSE, I said yes.  All I could think was, "That was fast God."  The lady was serious too because a day later she showed up on my doorstep to get my phone number.  I feel so blessed.

That same day two other women taking a walk with strollers stopped by my house and introduced themselves.  I feel so blessed.

So anyhow, I hope this is the beginning of a new friendships.  Just having other adults to interact with every now and then in my own neighborhood would be so nice.  Sigh!  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For my sanity and theirs

Knowing the doors for me to return to work are not going to happen this year, I have decided that some changes need to happen in order for me to survive another year of daycare.  I have spent the last 6 years homebound because of my job.  There was about a 3 month window where I did cart one daycare kid to playdates, but that was very short lived.  I have been homebound partly by choice.  I did not want to assume the risk invovled in transporting other people's children.  I also know getting 4 children in and out of car seats can be a big head ache. 

However, after 6 years of being cooped up, literally.  I NEED to get out.  Our yard is not very child friendly so even playing outside at our house is stressful. I am constantly worried about the little ones rolling down our hill, running into the street, or putting our rocks from our rock garden in their mouths or throwing them.   I'm going crazy people.  And I think the kids might be joining me on that crazy.  So needless to say, I think getting out an about a little may benefit all involved.  I'm hoping it may even eliminate some of the behavioral issues I encounter on a day to day basis as the children will get more energy out and be stimulated more.  I plan on taking them to local playgrounds, to parks for walks, and to story hour at our church.  This summer I will also take the big guys to swim lessons.  What's even more exciting for me is that I will get to be around other adults.   Maybe I'll make some new mommy friends which I need desperately need!

So first step is to hand out travel authorization forms and hope I don't get any resistance from the parents.  I can imagine it is a bit nerve racking to know your child will be carted around by another adult that is not you.  I get that.  I just hope that they can trust that I will take good care of their babies and be understanding that we all need this very badly. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flower Garden

Last year we rocked in the area in the front of our house.  It is a REAL pain to mow and we wanted to beautify it anyhow.  This spring I finally got to plant it.  I recruited my good friend Elaine Chase because she has some of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. I  learned a lot from her.  She is such a sweet heart.  Anyhow, I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  Of course this will look very different come summer when everything has a chance to grow up and bloom; right now it is just clusters of green.  Much of it is perennials, but I also threw in some stuff that should stick around all year long.  Hope it all lasts as our soil is soooo rocky.  Because we have used  on top of it, it will be important for me to fertilize regularly. 

Now all we need is some shutters.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Three of my faves

Signature Minerals Makeup.  I think I spoke of this shortly after I started using it.  It's been almost a year now and I'm still crazy about it for a couple of reasons.  It's cheaper than most mineral makeups.  It's the same ingredients as the expensive brands, minus bismuth too!  It doesn't aggravate my acne.  Samples are free!  It has great staying power.  It has a natural SPF of 15 which is important for me because sunblock irritates my facial skin.  It's the first makeup I've found that actually matches my skin tone.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this!

I have always been a Suave fan.  Mostly because of the price.  However, I started having a problem with gray hairs; They would always end up so wiry and stick straight out.  I was beginning to think I was going to have to go for a much shorter spikey doo to disguise those little boogers.   I decided to upgrade instead.  I think this is only about a dollar more than the cheap stuff and the packaging claims the product to be as good as the professional stuff.  Now I can't say with absolute certainty that this shampoo is what made ALL the difference because the same time I started using this I also stopped blow drying my hair and using root lifters and  heat sprays.  However, it does seem wierd to me that not only are my wiry hairs under control again, my hair is super soft and super shiny.  I basically just wash and condition with this stuff really well.  Then I sleep on my wet hair (doesn't bother me and I like that it makes my pillow smell good AND I don't have to sweat to death blow drying my hair;)  When I wake up the next morning I just take a straightener to it for the parts that didn't dry straight, tease the back a little,and wala!  Great looking hair!  Oh, and I want to add that I wash my hair every other day.

If you read my blog, you probably already know that I struggle to keep a clear complexion.  About 15 some years ago I took the strongest meds out there, accutane, to regain control of my skin.  It seems many suffers see their acne come back some 10-15 years later.  I am one of those unfortunate souls.  If you don't know anything about accutane then let me tell you it isn't a walk in the park. There are horrible side effects, MANY risks, and it is COSTLY.  Years ago when I took it it was hundreds of dollars to get through  6 months treatment.  In addition, you are required to be on birth control so there's that added expense, AND you have to take monthly blood tests to make sure your liver is functioning OK on it.  It's serious stuff.  I really wish I could do it again though.  I am so self conscience of my skin at the moment.  However, we aren't in a position to dish out hundreds of dollars at the moment to fix the problem.  In comes my attempt with this product.  After reading a hundred reviews this sounded like it had potential.

Week one was torture.  My skin dried out horribly and it BURNED for half a day.  Many others had this same problem on this product.  Some people gave up.  Some persevered and saw results.  I wanted to persevere, with caution.  I started using a separate moisturizer before applying the final lotions and swapped the peroxide lotion that you put on as the last step with spot treatment made by the same company.  The spot treatment had 5% benzoyl peroxide vs 10% provided with the kit.  The burning continued, but not as severe.  The drying and peeling continued but got better with time. 

Now I've been on it a month and this is where I'm at, the burning is almost completely gone. The dryness and flaking is minimal and I suspect it may go away eventually.  My skin tone is so much more even and my skin is soooo soft.  The small bumps are going away.  White heads rarely appear and blackheads are all gone.  The cysts still come, but less frequently and not as severe.  They also don't last as long.  My hope is that with continued use this will all continue to improve to the point where visiting a dermatologist will no longer be needed.  So for now, I give this product a stamp of approval.  Even if I still continue to get blemishes, as I suspect I will, it is worth it for the increased softness, better texture, and tone and prevention of blackheads and whiteheads.  It is a big commitment though and a lot of steps to go through and I would add that I do have to continue to use babysoap to remove my makeup before I even begin the regime.  

So anyways, there you have it.  Three of my new faves.  Sometimes you just have to share.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My secret weapon

I say this after only trying it once, but it was so successful after only one try it may stick.  My littlest daycare gal is a HANDFUL.  She has been since I started watching her at 6 weeks old.  Nothing has been easy with her.  NOTHING.  With each new development I thought maybe watching her would become easier.  It has, to an extent.  However, one thing is never going to change about her no matter how much growing and maturing she does and that's her temperament.  She's hot headed.  If she doesn't get her way, you're going to know about it.  Her wails are ear piercing and can make my blood pressure sky rocket in 10 seconds flat.  Usually as long as I stay planted on the couch in her play zone, she's happy.  However, the minute I get up to cook, clean, or just tend to someone else's needs, I'm going to hear about it.  This can make for a long day of getting absolutely nothing done except keeping her happy.  My reward, a house that is not tended too, a resentful heart, and nerves that aren't completely shattered, but close. 

Reading one of my devotionals the other day I realized that I had become quite negative in my feelings about it all and one of the suggestions was to simply praise Jesus to conquer those feelings.  Today as I got up to start cooking little gal started in as she always does.  She followed me to the kitchen, started screaming and grabbing my pantlegs. She wanted ALL of me and I just couldn't give it to her at that time.  Rather than let it grind on my nerves, I grabbed my ipod, put in my headphones, and listened to praise music.  Every time little gal came in, I just took her back to the living room and calmly told her to go play.  Of course she would return screaming more loudly than before.  This happened about 10 or 15 times.  Finally she gave up and started playing calmly and happily again even giggling at one point.  

I was so proud of myself for remaining calm and so thankful.  I felt a complete high knowing that I had conquered something that I had been struggling with for so, so long even if it were for only one day; I had conquered myself and my feelings about a very stressful situation.  If I can do it once, I bet I can do it again, and again, and again.  In order to teach a little one to control her emotions, I must first be in control of my own.  Before, I would just let it stress me out and then we would both end the power struggle feeling exhausted, angry, and frustrated.  However, today we both ended the experience feeling happy.  Now that's a win in my book.  Sure hope this continues to help me deal with her and teach her appropriate behavior.  Aside from those two crazy boys I watched a year ago,she is by far the hardest child I've ever had to watch. So today, even if it's just one day I feel good about how things went.  All glory and honor go to God who had my back today when he canceled out the negative and replaced it with the positive through the power of praise music.

Somebody cue the the music, "I will survive!"

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012 Recap

Our trip to Garden was filled with eggs, egg hunts, family, and good food.  We arrived about 3 in the morning on Friday and spent all of Friday with the Bilberrys. The big even that day was when my MIL and I took the girls to meet up with my sister and her kids at the YMCA swimming pool.  We had a good time until suddenly the pool was overwhelmed with daycare kids.  It became difficult for K to practice swimming in all that chaos and I was being splashed in the face more than I cared to endure so we jetted shortly after.  That evening the Bilberrys provided us a great feast and we enjoyed our time just sitting and visiting with family.

The next day we spent with the Koehns.  All the kids got to dye and decorate Easter eggs. The adults joined in on this fun.  Shortly afterwards the kids got to hunt for eggs and open their presents from Grandma and Grandpa Koehn.  Later that evening we drove to El Zarape for our last meal at our favorite restaurant as a family.  I told Jeff that it may be time to start a Bilberry tradition of eating at El Zarape.  Hardly seems right to visit Garden without going to this place.  Yummy!

The next day, Easter, the girls got to hunt for eggs outside planted by the Easter bunny.  They then went back inside to discover the bunny left them baskets of goodies while they were out hunting.  Afterwars we went to church and then headed home.  It was a jam packed weekend of fun.  We are tired but glad we made some good memories.

Sorry the pics are a bit out of order, and as always we always forget to photo someone.  This time we forgot to photo Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Jason Bilberry.  Maybe Jeff has some photos on his phone.

Jeff's silly egg
Papa taking his afternoon siesta
I am an egg hunter expert!
Did you find an egg Derek?  "Yea!"  He's talking a little folks!
Bren likes her gift from Kama and Papa
Man that sun was bright!
All the grandkids and their Grandparents
Really enjoyed scribbling on eggs and only broke one!
My little sweety pie!
Never too old to hunt Miss Gracy!
Little miss helper Jessa.
Now that is a cute duo!
Everyone having Easter fun
Oh boy! How many did the bunny hide?
Bren got lots of compliments on her hairdo.
That Easter bunny is sneaky leaving stuff while we were hunting
I found an egg!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An abundant life

I read a verse today. I have read it before, but for some reason this time, it had new meaning to me.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

As I pondered what it was saying, I realized that my interpretation of this verse has changed as I have become older.  I think the old me interpreted abundance from Christ as blessings, not intrinsic but more....extrinsic: a roof over our heads, a healthy happy family, food on our plates.  Basically I felt an abundant life meant blessings through provisions that everyone desires.  Sure, I believe most of what I have (if not all) comes from God above and that a lot of these things have led to a feeling of complete abundance.  However, today it means so much more than that, and I don't think Christ came so I can have a roof over my head, food on my plate, and a happy and healthy family.  Today I would sum the abundance this verse speaks of in one word, freedom.

So much abundance comes from freedom.  Because of Christ we are free from sin, from the guilt that accompanies that sin, free from worry, free from fear of being alone, sick, rejected, or poor.  We have to allow ourselves to accept this and for me it is a constant process; I really have to work at it.  But in a nutshell we are free from the world and all the filth that comes with it.  Sigh!  What a release!  What a power!  What an ABUNDANT LIFE!  Freedom brings sweet release and happiness comes in its stead.  Freedom, now that is the blessing I think God had in mind when it comes to offering us a more abundant life by sending his son.

I read a book awhile back, I forgot the title but if you are interested I will dig it out and let you know what it is called.  It is basically about a missionary in Russia.  He was tortured, beaten, starved, you name it.  He was asked to renounce Christ and never would; he suffered great cruelty for his faith.  One story that sticks in my mind was how he was left in a wooden box for days standing up.  The box had nails driven into the sides so that every time he made any movement he would be poked by the nails.  There were other stories of prisoners being hung upside down by their feet for very long periods of time.  However, he counted himself blessed and honored to suffer for the cause of Christ.  During some of the most torturous times he sunk into the loving arms of his creator and suddenly felt peace, comfort, and extreme happiness and was able to endure.  In Christ he found  FREEDOM from everything he was going through.  What's even more astounding is how he grew to completely love those who tortured him because he saw them as a wounded soul who needed Christ.   He saw them through Christ's eyes and had great compassion for them.  He knew they were lost sheep and could see the void and pain in their eyes.  It's unimaginable and unexplainable really.  Because of him, some of his torturers came to know Christ. WOW!

I bring up this book to emphasize that even in the most dire of all situations, freedom can be found in Christ and where freedom lies, so lies peace, happiness, and therefore the abundant life which this verse speaks of.  Only in Christ can that sort of abundance be found.  How blessed we are. 

In the past two years since we have lived in our home, some people we know well and care for have lost their jobs.  I have great compassion for them.  I try to mentally put myself in their shoes and it makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am.  If I'm not careful, I worry myself silly.  What if that happens to us?  What would we do?  Would we loose our home, our vehicles, our grocery money?  Why hasn't that happened to us?  We aren't more deserving than these people.  Why us?  Surely something bad will happen to us too eventually.  Silly Darci.  There I go rejecting that gift of freedom.  It doesn't really matter if any of that happens.  I am free from all of it if I just accept that I can trust God no matter what. I have to trust that he loves me and always has my best interest at heart and will be glorified through it all. That trust will give me the freedom from all the what ifs, and a life without what ifs is certainly more abundant don't you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


We are leaving on Thursday after work to travel to Garden City for Easter.  This trip is significant because it will be the last time my family, (the Koehns) will ever be in Garden together.  I spent 19 years of my life in Garden.  My sister is the last to leave from our family and she will be moving to the KC area this summer.  Everything is falling into place for her nicely so we are certain it is the Lord's doing for her to make this move.

We plan on eating at our all time favorite Mexican food restaurant El Zarape.  Any time anything big happened in our family we would always celebrate at El Zarape.  My sister announced her first pregnancy over bean dip at El Zarape LOL.  My parents will be driving down on Friday.  My sister will house them.  We will stay with Jeff's family, but spend most of Saturday with my side of the family.  Easter eggs will be painted and hunted, swimming will be done at the YMCA, and cousins will play with cousins.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I'm a little worried about my Mom as she always seems to pick something up every time she comes back to Garden and ordinary illnesses are never an easy recovery for her.  Here is a copy of a recent email regarding her health:
CAT scan done yesterday.  Pulmulogist said that on a scale of 1-10 w/a rating of 10 being the worse for    Sarcoid in the lungs,... I am a 5 to a 7.  Dr said I could still be a lot worse w/Sarcoid.
LOTS of scarring in the lungs BUT it has been there since last CAT scan in 2009. No significant new scarring.  Pulmunlogist said lungs sound clear and ACE test results show a 7.  ACE is a blood test and is an indicator of Sarcoid and can be as high as 70, so being that low and havng Sarciod dx doesn't make sense but it is a good sign regardless. 

So needless to say, doctors are a little baffled why my mother is starting to cough again and may be doing a bronchostomy soon if the current meds to don't help.  There is suspicion that there is still a fungal infection on her lungs currently.

Jeff's parents will be the only remaining family left in Garden City.  We will still drive down and visit once a year, but we are hoping that some day they will move closer too.  There have been conversations, so who knows?  8 plus hours is such a long drive for our kiddos; they do well, but usually by the end they are READY to be done.  What will be nice is not having to split our time between the Koehns and Bilberrys every time we visit.  

Our trip will be made in our new van Lola.  Sorry, it was hard to get a good shot in the garage.  We LOVE her.  She passed the Toyota inspection with flying colors  She has 72,000 miles on her so she still has a lot of life in her.  She is a 2008 Sienna, my first Toyota.  Our last van was 1999.  Toyota claims their vehicles go forever if you keep up with regular maintenance; we're really hoping this is the case. We are committed this time to servicing her correctly.  In the past, we would keep up on oil changes, but everything else was just a fix as it broke kind of deal.  Yesterday we had a DVD player installed.  No more dead portable DVD batteries or hearing, "Mom, the DVD player is falling down!"  There are 7 cup holders in the front.  A nice change from our 2 in the old van that never held the cups well.  There are also a lot of other little nooks and crannies to store things and my favorite feature, fold down seats in the back.  When not folded down, the floor has a nice dip so my groceries no longer go flying around on the way home.  The cruise control works, the ac works, and the front windows and back windows work.  The kids love that their windows actually roll down. Overall, it is a significant upgrade and I love driving this vehicle around!

Since this trip is centered around Easter I wanted to remind the girls what Easter was really about so we had conversation about it one night before bed.  When I told them it was the day Jesus rose from the dead, Kadyn responded, "Wow!"  Why can't we all have that same reaction to it year after year?  I think we could learn a thing or too from the wonderment and awe of a child.  The next morning Brennan was trying to tell one of my friends about it and she said, "Jesus was roasted on the cross."  I think she was trying to say Jesus rose from the cross.  Silly girl.

Well anyhoo....looking forward to fun filled holiday trip.  Until we return.  Toodles!