Under Construction....

Please excuse my interweb-dust! Changes are underway- thanks for your patience!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bear with Me...

This Little Wife is busy changing things up here in ye old blog-land--- thanks for being patient with me while I get going on it!

A Little Wife's Happy Life will be getting a new look soon (just as soon as I can figure out how to get it the way I want it and have enough internet access to do so!)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Frugal Friday- Little Wife's Guide To: Making a Cardigan

My husband had to go get the exhaust fixed on the truck this evening, so that meant I was home alone. What to do... what to do....

Upgrade a too-big shirt into a cardigan, of course!

I love Goodwill- specifically, our Goodwill. It's got some really great stuff- high quality, gently used, and now just waiting to be loved by someone new. Goodwill is an awesome place to save money on clothes. Even if something's not exactly what you're looking for, $4.00 for a shirt isn't bad, even if you have to do some tweaking!

I got this great gray long-sleeved shirt at Goodwill the other day- it was so soft! But I already have a lot of long-sleeved shirts... I was really looking for a gray cardigan. Here's how I turned my long-sleeved shirt into the cardigan I was looking for!

 Here's the shirt. First, I washed it and dried it (like, 5 days ago, but I never put it away... hee.)

 Next, I measured the width of the shirt and marked the middle. I measured about 5 times- the shirt narrows at the waist and widens at the bottom (most shirts will!) so to make sure my line was straight, I made sure the measure a lot.

Then I cut the shirt at my measurements, so it opens at the front. Like 'dis!

Then, I cuffed the edges so they were folded 1/4 inch towards the outside edges, and then folded them under. This way, my edge won't fray. I pinned up the edges. And, since my husband wasn't home, I took the pinning downstairs and watched a little "Last American Cowboy."

Then I used a zig-zag stitch to sew up the edges. At this point, I got hungry, so I went and had a cookie for supper. No husband to feed, you know.

The finished sewn edge looks like this... and then I removed the pins... cookie still in hand.

I decided to add buttons to my cardigan next. I've never made a buttonhole in my life, so the buttons are just decorative.
Zeke's grandma was the one who saved these buttons. After she died, at the age of 98, I was given her sewing basket and all her odds and ends. She must have saved years of buttons- most with little scraps of fabric attached. I wonder who wore the blue shirt these buttons were once a part of... probably grandma herself.

Anyway, I found four of these buttons, and put the bottom button 6 inches from the bottom of the cardigan, and then a button every three inches from there up.
And voila! Shirt becomes a cardigan!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Balls. (True Story Tuesday)

So, my Hunky Husband and I live in Iowa, right? Iowa has a lot of beef. And one favorite tradition in places with a lot of beef is the infamous Testicle Festival. Not joking.

Zeke and I went to a "Test Fest" ... um.... four summers ago. It was my very first encounter with beef testes. Zeke has had lots of other chances to witness beef testicle, in several different situations. Including this one...

(In this picture, calves are being branded and castrated. Hunky Husband is the labeled person... he's holding the back legs of a calf. Meanwhile, the calf is quickly being branded, vaccinated, and his... well, his gentleman parts are being removed. The calf will be up and running around, like nothing ever happened, in no time.)

Tangent- It still amazes me how much Zeke has taught me about the life of a farmer. I lived in a teeny tiny agricultural town in Iowa for 8 years, and it wasn't until meeting Zeke that I actually understood any of the things going on around me. Amazing. You see, my Hunky Husband grew up with stuff like this in his back yard...

... while I grew up in total suburbia.

Even further tangent- see the coat he's wearing in the second picture (the one with the corn getting sucked into the auger)? It's this coat.

Anyways, my first Testicle Festival was... well, actually kind of fun. I got my picture taken by a sign- proof that there is such an event to all of my Chicago college-mates.

Hunky Husband and Little Wife. Guess who's who?.

I even ate the Rocky Mountain Oyster sandwich. Balls on a Bun. Gourmet Gonads. Yes, I did. I have eaten testicle.

Rocky Mountain Oysters, or beef testes, on a bun.
 And it was good. True story.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lies I Found on Pinterest

Ah, Pinterest... what can we say about Pinterest? It's a fantastic way to waste an hour (or three) while your husband watches movies that you don't really care for... it's great for finding awesome DIY projects and recipes.... and it's full of lovely lies.

Some of these lies sound soo appealing. So romantic. And they're so untrue. I think it's kind of funny some of the things that are posted- so dramatic!- and then other times, things get under my skin. I think it's important to protect our minds from some of the unrealistic expectations that are so common in our culture today, so here are just a couple Pinterest untruths I found this past weekend....

 I'm all for respecting yourself, but this one just seems so self-centered. Serves YOU, grows YOU, makes YOU happy... maybe we should walk away from thinking that we ourselves are most important and start thinking about what serves HIM, what helps us grow to be more like HIM, and makes HIM happy.

Um, pretty sure that my husband does not "accept me completely." He finds certain things unacceptable. Like when I'm impatient and let the emotions get the best of me around my sisters. Or when I'm selfish, or when I lie... My husband isn't supposed to accept me completely, he's supposed to sharpen me. He's a tool to make me more like Christ- and I'm the same for him.

Okay, lots of girl-power here- which isn't a bad thing, but do you notice the double standard? We want a guy who "needs" us, without needing anyone ourselves. Not only does that put all the pressure on woman to be self-sustaining, but it also exempts the guys from any responsibility. Nice catchy sentiment, but totally wrong message.

 Fall in love with yourself first? Before what? Before loving others, before loving the Lord? Again, it's all about ME and loving ME!

I'm pretty sure that last night, I didn't feel lucky to have Hunky Husband. He left his nasty, dirty socks on the floor again, and for a brief moment, I felt rather unlucky. And you know what? I think that's part of marriage! You're not always going to feel "lucky," but marriage is forever.
 Nice quote. Who wouldn't like someone who looks at you like you might be magic? But I'm pretty sure that first thing in the morning, when I've got morning breath and my hair looks like something from a Doctor Seuss book, my darling husband, while he loves me, doesn't look at me as a magical being. I'm human. Totally and completely human- nothing magical about me. And so is Zeke. And that's real life.

Are we seeing a pattern here, a little? Do more of what makes YOU happy. Maybe what makes ME happy isn't what makes God happy. We've become such a "me" centered society that we can't even see how selfish this is!

Oh wow. Can we just... wow. Not only over-dramatic, but also very wrong. As a girl, I don't want a bad boy to be good just for me. I want a good man, one who is always good. A man who seeks truth and love and justice- that's the man I want. A man who wants a girl to be "bad" just for him is a man who doesn't respect the girl, one who wants a woman to compromise her values and morals for him. Neither of these statements are healthy, and both lead to a bad relationship.

See what I mean? On the surface, so many of these cute or romantic little sayings are nice and innocent and appealing- but what's really behind them? So many of these quotes show us as a people to be selfish and unrealistic.

Before pinning, think. Does this really portray an attitude I want to foster, or is this just a lovely Pinterest lie?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Maintenance Man Monday: His Hands

This is my husband's hand. His hands embody so much of him, symbolize so much of what he holds in his spirit.

It's with these hands that he fixes pipes under cabins, shovels pea gravel into playgrounds, and writes plans for construction projects. It's these hands that roll toy trucks in the sand with our nephews and hold our nieces. They're tough and calloused and often pretty broken- sometimes so much so that touch screens don't recognize them. They're no-nonsense in board meetings and honest when holding a Bible for devotions.

It's these hands I held at our wedding, these hands that carry a ring symbolizing our unity (even though I put it on the wrong hand during the ceremony!), and it's these hands that I'll hold when our lives here on earth have come to a close.

It may seem a little silly, but I kind of picture the hands of God a lot like these quite human hands- strong, calloused, definitely tough from the business of Creation- but also gentle, full of grace, ready to stroke the cheek of a little one or hold someone who is hurting.

These are my husband's hands, and they point me to the character of God.

How does your spouse point you to God, even unintentionally?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Keeping Family First when Things are Busy

We don't have kids, we don't even have pets (unless you count Tucker, but all he does is swim around all day and give us dirty looks when we get home)....

... but we know busy.

Camp is a very busy place to live and work, especially during the summer. Now that both Hunky Husband and I work here at the Bible Camp, summertime is crazy. Blessed, full of fellowship and the Holy Spirit working in the lives of families, but man, it is busy.

Generally, during the summer, Zeke goes to work around 7, and I head out at about 8. We work, have lunch at Camp, work some more. Then we have supper at Camp. I go home at around seven, and Zeke might be home by five, or he might be home by ten- it depends. Our only day off is Saturday, and only if Zeke doesn't get called in. We both love being a part of an important and life-sustaining ministry, but putting in twelve hour days, six days a week gets to be a schedule that runs us ragged.

Busy. And it's during those crazy-busy times that we really need each other the most. It's so easy to get frustrated and snap at Zeke for leaving his dirty socks on the floor when I'm tired and stressed and drained- it gets hard to remember that we're a team and that our time together fills us back up again.

So how do we do that? When all I can think about is how I haven't done laundry in a week and we have guests coming for the weekend and why didn't that family send in their deposit on time?!?

Well, it's not easy.

Even when you're exhausted and busy, maintaining your marriage has to come first. Here are some practical ways to do that:

Love Sacrificially: For me, that meant that even when I was worn out, if Zeke needed a back rub, I obliged (not always very cheerfully, I'll admit). And that also meant that on Sunday, when I was busy doing registration for campers, Hunky Husband would pick up around the house, even when his feet were sore. It's all about love- give even when you're not sure what you have left to give.

Avoid Comparison: It's easy to fall into the pattern of competing against your partner. Remembering that you're both tired, you're both anxious, you're both worn out... it's so important in keeping your attitude productive and positive. It's not helpful, and is actually pretty harmful, to start that comparison game.

Do Stuff Together: The first thing to do together? Pray. Pray for your marriage, pray about the stuff that is stressing you out, pray for each other. Praying together is one of the best ways to align yourselves with God's plan and keep His love and joy in your lives. Of course, doing more stuff together is important, too. We knew that the busy time was coming, so we made a plan. Every week, some day of the week (and the day switched around for us a lot!) we planned to do something together. One of the keys to making sure our time together was actually time together was to avoid screens- no Pinterest, not movies, no TV, no video games. We came up with a bunch of ideas, some more active, some relaxing (hot tub night!), some educational (museum, art class), and some sort of silly (half-hour dance party!) It really doesn't matter what you're doing, as long as you're spending time as a couple.

How do you make your marriage a priority, even when you're being pulled in a million directions?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ten Minute Tuesday- First Thing

Ten minutes may not seem like much, but it's impressive how much you can get done in just 600 seconds. In fact, when you think about it that way, it seems like longer! 600 opposed to 10...


Starting a habit of getting up merely ten minutes early can make you feel so much more productive in the mornings, and can help your day get off to a good start! Getting something done first thing in the morning, even something small, makes a big difference.

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You'll have to figure out what works best for you... for me- taking ten minutes before heading to work is ideal, for a busy mom, perhaps getting some household stuff done right away in the morning is the way to go. Here's a quick list of things you can do in ten minutes or less- and check 'em off the To Do list right away!

- Start a load of laundry
- Pick up toys or clothes laying around
- Wash a sinkload of dishes
- Clean a toilet
- Wipe down a counter
- Scrub off burnt on food off of the stove
- Sweep an area (like an entryway, bathroom, or kitchen)
- Fold a laundry basket of laundry and put it away
- Clean mirrors

Think of a couple ways you can make a difference in your home in just a couple minutes, and knock it out first thing- it'll feel good to cross it off your list!

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Planning Binder: Miscellaneous Pages

My planning binder includes a couple of "catch-all" sections. Eventually, I think I'll change some of these to make more organizational sense, but for now, this is working for me. Remember, your planning binder's got to be flexible- it's good for changes to happen! It's all about making your binder fit you and your life.

Here are some of my most-used pages in my Miscellaneous section:

My Budget Tracker: 

 This page is simple but effective. I use this page to write down anything we spend, and then later put the information into my budgeting spreadsheet on the computer. That way, we can see where our resources are going. I also like to keep receipts, but this kind of eliminates that need (as long as I keep it updated right away!)

My Shopping List: 

Another simple one. I like carrying my shopping list with me because our life is so spontaneous sometimes that going home to get a list isn't practical. And this way, I can add things as I notice them. Having an estimated price also keeps my budget in check- if something costs a lot more than I anticipated, chances are that I'll rethink the purchase. 

My Grocery List: 

Just a pretty plain grocery list, I have this divided into categories to make shopping easier. I also have the estimated price feature on this list. It's kind of fun to see how close I came to estimating the right total, or how much cheaper everything was (hopefully!)

So there you have it! The sum of my Planning Binder! Any ideas on how you have adapted your planner to accommodate your needs? I'm always up for new ideas to make my life a little simpler!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Learning to Trust My Body

A huge adjustment of using FAM, at least for me, was really relying on and believing in my body. Before using FAM, a lot of the signals my body sends me were ignored completely. I just wasn't aware of them. Cut to using FAM- the Fertility AWARENESS Method!

Unfortunately, although I'm now aware of those signals, I still try to come up with logical ways to explain them that make sense to me, rather than just trusting those signals.

Last night, I was super crabby toward Zeke. Like, really angry. For no reason. I just thought, "well, I'm really tired. I'm just cranky because I need more sleep!"

My basal body temperature today was low... 96.8. Yesterday I was at 97.1. Probably because I went to bed later than I should have.

Then I woke up this morning with a headache- another one of my signals. Hmm, must need caffeine.

And then, at 10:30, I got my period. In my office, completely without supplies.

My body was all like, "HELLO!?! What do you mean you're not prepared and have to run home? I totally warned you!"

But I didn't think about the signs. I was aware of them, I just didn't take them seriously and instead rationalized them subconsciously.

Conclusion: The human body (especially the female version, in my opinion) is a fantastic thing. It knows what it's doing, generally speaking. I've gotta be aware of the signals it sends, and think about what those might mean!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Planning Binder- Daily Do's, Weekly and Monthly Planning Pages

Okay, here's part two of a peek into my planning binder!

The first three sections of my binder are Daily Do's, Weekly Plans, and Monthly Plans. To make a template for each of these sections, I used Microsoft Publisher.

First, can I just say? Publisher ROCKS! I'd never used it before starting my new job... here I've been trying to format Word pages and getting frustrated at figuring out layouts and stuff... ugh. Publisher works so much better. And I'm totally and completely behind in the world of technology, I realize. My middle school computer teacher would be ashamed.

Anyway. Here are a couple of examples of my pages. Again, heed my tips for making a planning binder work- Make it Yours, Make it Flexible, Make it Routine. My template probably won't work for you. That's cool. Make it Yours! Your first template will probably need to be adjusted to fit your needs, your life, and your schedule better, and that's okay. Make it Flexible, and Make it Routine!

Daily Do's Pages: 

Half page (landscape), double sided.

For some incomprehensible reason, Blogger didn't want this picture to be uploaded facing the correct direction... who knows. Sorry I've made you crane your neck...

Here's the gist of these pages. The top allows me to write in the day and date. That way, if I don't use my planner for a day (like a Sunday, or if I know that an entire day will be dedicated to one event), I don't feel guilty about wasting a page.

I have two columns on these pages.

The left column first has my "Daily Docket" or a schedule for the day that I can fill in if I need to remember a specific time for something (like, 8:30 Staff Meeting! or 6:15 Dinner with the Joneses!).

Next I have my meal prep section entitled "What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?" where I can write in any meals I'm making, notes, and anything I need to prep.

Next is a section for my FAM Notes. I have a horrible memory, so writing down my exact observations as they occur really helps me. I have a spot for my cycle day, my basal body temperature, and spots to write in my CF observations at different points in the day (waking, 9 am, noon, 4 pm, and evening).

At the bottom I leave a space for tracking my goals. I get to cross of a circle any time I meet my goal for the day. My goals include excercise, not biting my nails, taking my vitamins, and reading a chapter in the Bible (with a place to keep track of what chapter I read).

The right column has "Morning Do's" at the top of the page, with three circles for me to cross out as I get things done. I like having household tasks in the morning- it makes me feel like I've accomplished things before work!

Next is my "Work Day Do's" section, which is just like the one above it. At night, as I look ahead to the next day, I sometimes suddenly remember something I should have done at work- an e-mail I needed to answer, a payment I should have processed... so I write it down for the next day, so I won't have a sleepless night of trying not to forget something!

After that is my "Evening Do's" section.... which is pretty self-explanatory, given the above two.

My "Prayer Requests" section and "Notes" section close out this column. Again, my bad memory means I often forget, by the end of the day, that someone has asked for prayers. Also, the staff at the Bible Camp where we work have a prayer time every morning, so anytime I think of something, I like to write it down! "Notes" is really just a catch-all... I've used it for phone messages, things I needed to ask HH about, account numbers so I could cancel my phone plan... you name it.

Weekly Plans Pages: 

Half page (landscape), double sided- one side has a "Week at a Glace" template, the other side has a "Weekly Household Chores" template.

On the back side of these pages (so the left side of the picture), I have a list of household chores that should get accomplished every week or so. As I get these done, I cross them off here. It helps me to have a detailed list of things I need to get done, without having a strict schedule. That way, I can tackle smaller tasks on busy days, without feeling like I'm failing because Monday is laundry day and I just didn't get a chance to do the laundry.

On the front side of the pages I have a "week at a glance" where I can write down menu planning, events, and reminders.

Monthly Plans Pages:

Half page (landscape), single side. These were super easy to make- just make a chart and then you can fill in the dates and months as you go.


I like having these calendar-type pages for looking farther forward. I can make small notes about events on this page, and I also keep track of my cycle on this page (marking ovulation and menstruation with little symbols).

So there you have it! Three of my most-used pages in my planning binder! What tools do you use to keep your life organized and running smoothly?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More-than-Ten-Minute Tuesday: A Look Into My Planner

Lots and lots of awesome bloggers have posted their versions of family planning binders. I'm adding mine to the bunch!

Some tips to planning binders:

Make it Yours: No one else has a life just like yours- make your binder customized to your life! I looked through several different examples (try searching "Family Planning Binder" on Google- you'll be impressed), and then used what I saw to come up with something that works for me right now. Using a fun font helps personalize your planner even more (try dafont.com to download some great fonts).

Make it Flexible: Start with a few different options at first, and be ready and willing to change things up as you figure out what you liked and didn't like about each example. Adjusting your planning pages and things take time and experience. You'll probably have to change at least something about your pages at some point! Also recognize that your life will change, too- and along with that, your needs will change, and so will your binder! I've already changed around my Daily Do's pages, added a new section, and I'm thinking about streamlining a section... we'll see.

Make it Routine: A binder won't work if it's not part of your schedule. I usually look in my binder at least five times during the day, and then once at night before bed. I'm forgetful, and having a constant reminder really helps. Keep in mind that your binder will also need to fit into your life- physically. I don't really carry around backpacks or diaper bags, and I knew the binder would need to come along with me, so I chose a mini-binder because it fits in my purse and it's less bulky to carry. Check out your options and find out what works for you.

The General Idea:

The binder is from Staples- it's one of the 5.5x8.5 size binders. Mine is yellow, with a rubber grippy edge. I picked it because it looked sturdy yet cheerful! (This is the type of binder I use, just in yellow. I've been using it for over a year now- it's really really durable!)

I was worried that I wouldn't find a three-hole punch that would work with this particular size, but they sell those at Staples, too- although I use an adjustable three-hole punch that I already had on hand. I did buy the pre-made dividers for the binder rather than making them myself (which wouldn't have been that hard... but I was having a lazy day).

My binder has five sections for the time being- Daily Do's, Weekly Plans, Monthly Plans, Misc. Planning Pages, and General Info. I have the sections to help me organize my plans and find information easily, and I use paperclips to help me find the exact page I'm on.

A few months after I started using this binder, I went back to Staples (which is never a good idea for me... too much fun) and found a ton of cute new binders and accessories, and while I wanted to buy them all, I decided on just one (and yes, I am proud of that!).

I picked up this nifty pocket- it's plastic and closes with velcro- and it's been so handy already. I put my phone and my keys in there when I'm at work, and then I know exactly where they are all day and they're not taking up extra room on my desk. And it's two fewer things to carry! I also put receipts in here to file later. (And I don't know why the picture uploaded upside-down...)

To see more about the pages I include in my binder, click here and here. 


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